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Leafs Look To Start Trip On Winning Note

Tuesday, 03.17.2009 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

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Leafs Look To Start Trip On Winning Note
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Henny & Bowen Preview | Hamilton | Zettler

With their playoff hopes fading, the Toronto Maple Leafs had their highest-scoring game of the season their last time out. The Tampa Bay Lightning are putting out a similar effort despite already being out of the postseason picture.

The Maple Leafs look to avoid losing a fifth straight to the Lightning on Tuesday night when the teams meet at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Toronto (28-29-13) is 11th in the Eastern Conference with 69 points - 10 behind Carolina for the final playoff spot - with 12 games remaining. The inconsistent Maple Leafs haven't helped their chances at reaching the postseason for the first time since 2004 by going 3-3-1 in their last seven games. In five of those contests, they were held to two or fewer goals.

Toronto, though, rediscovered its offense in an 8-6 victory over Calgary on Saturday as Mikhail Grabovski scored twice while Alexei Ponikarovsky recorded four assists. Toronto was 2-for-5 on the power play after going 1-for-14 in the previous five games.

"There's no excuse that we can't come out with energy like that every game," center Matt Stajan said.

The Maple Leafs will try to build off that performance in the opener of a three-game trip that will also take them to Florida and Montreal after facing Tampa Bay (23-32-14). Toronto is a combined 2-6-2 against those teams this season, including 0-3-0 against the Lightning.

The Maple Leafs have been outscored 13-7 by the Lightning in 2008-09, losing 4-1 last Thursday at home.

Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier and St. Louis each have five points against Toronto this season. Lecavalier has a six-game point streak versus the Maple Leafs, tallying four goals and seven assists during that stretch.

The Lightning are looking to win three straight for the first time since late January, matching their longest winning streak of the season. Tampa Bay is coming off a 4-3 shootout win over Florida on Saturday.

St. Louis and Jeff Halpern had third-period goals before Steven Stamkos scored in the first round of the shootout.

"This says a lot about the character of this team going forward," Halpern said. "We never gave up and kept coming at them and coming at them. It's a big win for us."

Although his team has almost no shot at the postseason, St. Louis hasn't let that slow him down. He had a goal and an assist Saturday to extend his point streak to five games. St. Louis - the team leader with 69 points - has six goals and eight assists in his last 10 games.

Also contributing offensively is Stamkos, the top overall pick in the 2008 draft. After beginning his NHL career with 19 points in his first 49 games, the 19-year-old has 15 points in his last 17 contests.

The Lightning have lost three straight and six of their last seven home games. Included in that stretch was a 9-3 loss to Carolina on March 7 in their most recent contest at the St. Pete Times Forum.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 17 '09TOR 4 at TBL 3 - SOJ. Mitchell
Mar 12 '09TBL 4 at TOR 1M. St. Louis
Feb 12 '09TOR 4 at TBL 6S. Stamkos
Oct 28 '08TBL 3 at TOR 2V. Lecavalier
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Blake67243256+43445
M. Stajan65143549-55051
A. Ponikarovsky71192948+63442
N. Antropov63212546-132462
D. Moore63122941-16941
L. Stempniak65132639-103131
P. Kubina71132538-67984
N. Hagman58191837-5462
M. Grabovski67161935-57652
T. Kaberle5142731-14831
J. Mitchell6591625-142710
N. Kulemin64111223-91811
I. White6091423+45521
J. Finger5551419-113900
A. Stralman3411112+11801
J. Mayers605611-106801
M. Van Ryn273811+21420
L. Schenn59189-125000
J. Williams11527+2200
J. Frogren41167+02800
B. May48156+15700
A. Steen20224-4610
J. Hamilton7224-1000
J. Tlusty14044+0000
R. Hollweg25022-73800
J. Sifers23022-41800
B. Devereaux12022-1000
T. Stapleton3101-3000
A. Deveaux20011-27500
C. Colaiacovo10011-2600
B. Ondrus7000-23400
P. Oreskovic5000-21600
K. Newbury1000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
V. Toskala5322-17-1116615183.26.891
M. Gerber197-11-1565472.95.898
C. Joseph153-7-1382863.47.867
J. Pogge51-3-1201383.95.855
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. St. Louis70264571+51072
V. Lecavalier70293665-550106
M. Recchi62133245-152021
V. Prospal70172643-164662
R. Malone60241640+48863
S. Stamkos67152035-123361
S. Eminger6242125-44420
J. Jokinen4661016-81620
C. Murphy3251116-41440
A. Meszaros5221416-43611
E. Artyukhin6151015+112210
L. Krajicek6011314-94600
J. Halpern405813-92211
P. Ranger4221113-55600
M. Pettinger475510-121101
A. Hall62549-52510
J. Melichar30088+02000
G. Roberts30437-112721
S. Downie29336-26501
P. Szczechura24336+1810
R. Vrbata18336-1810
R. Craig46235-85300
M. Malik42055-33600
M. Smaby32044-73800
J. Niskala6123+0610
M. Karsums12033-3000
N. Welch29112-82100
M. Carle12112+1600
M. Lundin25022-4400
C. Gratton18022-31000
J. Heward13022-1400
V. Mihalik7022-2600
R. Petiot4022+3200
D. Koci27011+09900
M. Lashoff17011+01000
R. Smolenak6011+11000
T. Wishart5011+0000
K. Quick4000+1000
Z. Konopka3000+01700
B. Segal2000+0000
A. Hutchinson2000-5000
J. Ward1000+0200
S. O'Brien1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Smith4114-18-910812822.62.916
K. Ramo174-7-4565433.65.897
M. McKenna93-3-1262293.53.886
O. Kolzig82-4-1252453.66.898
R. Helenius10-0-0020.001.000
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