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Maple Leafs-Lightning Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Maple Leafs-Lightning Preview
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are in desperate need of a scoring boost from Vincent Lecavalier. Matchups with the Toronto Maple Leafs usually spark the star center.

With the Lightning in a scoring drought, Lecavalier looks to continue his success against the Maple Leafs when the teams meet Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Tampa Bay (18-25-11) is 1-4-1 after winning its previous three, scoring one goal in four of its last five contests.

The Lightning lost 3-1 to Atlanta on Tuesday after beating the New York Islanders 1-0 on Saturday night. Lecavalier was held off the scoresheet in both games, and hasn't recorded a point in three straight home contests.

Lecavalier, who leads Tampa Bay with 24 goals, has been particularly effective versus Toronto (20-24-10) in recent years. The veteran has 11 goals and 14 assists in his last 16 games against the Maple Leafs.

On Oct. 28, Lecavalier scored a pair of highlight-reel goals to lead Tampa Bay to a 3-2 win over Toronto. The teams will be meeting for the first time since then.

On Tuesday, though, Lightning interim coach Rick Tocchet may have been trying to motivate Lecavalier with his comments, as he criticized his players for their effort early on against the Thrashers.

"Just not interested," Tocchet said. "Maybe it's the coaching staff's fault. I don't know. We're pretty disappointed in some guys."

Steve Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, tried to spark a Lightning comeback. Stamkos thought he scored with 8:09 to play in the third, but officials ruled that Kari Lehtonen made the save. The play was reviewed and upheld.

The 19-year-old center has six goals and 15 assists in 51 games. He earned his first NHL point versus Toronto, picking up an assist on Lecavalier's second goal.

With their playoff hopes slim, the Lightning are counting on Lecavalier and Stamkos to pick up their play. Tampa Bay is 12th in the Eastern Conference with 47 points, 13 behind eighth-place Florida.

Toronto's postseason chances aren't much better. The Maple Leafs have 50 points and are in 11th place in the East.

Toronto is 3-1-2 after losing its previous four, but suffered a heartbreaking and costly defeat in its last contest, blowing a 4-1 lead early in the third period and falling 5-4 in overtime to Florida on Tuesday night.

Nik Antropov has been a bright spot for the Maple Leafs, scoring his fourth goal in six games Tuesday. The veteran winger had gone 16 games without a goal before this stretch.

Antropov, who played in his 500th game Tuesday, is second on Toronto with 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists). He has not scored in his last four games against Tampa Bay, with one assist in that span.

Maple Leafs winger Niklas Hagman added two goals against the Panthers. He has three goals and two assists in his last four games, but just two goals and three assists in 19 games versus the Lightning.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 17 '09 TOR 4 at TBL 3 - SO J. Mitchell
Mar 12 '09 TBL 4 at TOR 1 M. St. Louis
Feb 12 '09 TOR 4 at TBL 6 S. Stamkos
Oct 28 '08 TBL 3 at TOR 2 V. Lecavalier
J. Blake51192342+62824
N. Antropov55172239-152052
M. Stajan49122436-104251
D. Moore55112536+35141
A. Ponikarovsky55161935+32832
N. Hagman51171633-7251
T. Kaberle4942630-12831
L. Stempniak49101929-52031
M. Grabovski51131427-86041
P. Kubina5581927-126352
N. Kulemin4991019-111011
I. White447916+24221
J. Mitchell5031316-132300
J. Finger4141014-43900
M. Van Ryn233710+2820
A. Stralman28189+01001
J. Mayers44268-65100
J. Williams11527+2200
L. Schenn43156-104100
B. May35156+34900
J. Frogren30156-42400
A. Steen20224-4610
J. Tlusty14044+0000
R. Hollweg25022-73800
J. Sifers16022-61100
A. Deveaux20011-27500
C. Colaiacovo10011-2600
K. Newbury1000+0200
V. Toskala4718-17-915212853.41.882
C. Joseph121-6-1302063.81.854
J. Pogge31-2-013744.33.824
M. St. Louis55203454+9861
V. Lecavalier55252651+24285
M. Recchi55122537-171821
V. Prospal55132134-113841
R. Malone46181230+47543
S. Stamkos5271522-73131
S. Eminger5341822-53620
J. Jokinen4661016-81620
A. Meszaros5221416-43611
P. Ranger4221113-55600
E. Artyukhin474711+17910
L. Krajicek491910+13800
J. Halpern25358-6811
A. Hall49347-41600
C. Murphy17167+0810
S. Downie25336-14101
R. Vrbata18336-1810
M. Pettinger32246-8901
G. Roberts23415-71821
M. Malik37055-23200
J. Melichar16055-1800
R. Craig33224-43600
P. Szczechura18224+0610
J. Niskala6123+0610
M. Smaby17033-12100
M. Carle12112+1600
M. Lundin25022-4400
C. Gratton18022-31000
J. Heward13022-1400
V. Mihalik7022-2600
R. Smolenak6011+11000
T. Wishart2011+0000
D. Koci17000+16600
K. Quick4000+1000
Z. Konopka3000+01700
A. Hutchinson2000-5000
J. Ward1000+0200
S. O'Brien1000-1000
M. Smith4114-18-910812822.62.916
O. Kolzig82-4-1252453.66.898
M. McKenna52-1-1101222.21.918
K. Ramo41-2-0151075.06.860
R. Helenius10-0-0020.001.000
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