Posted March 19, 2013 on AP on Fox
The slumping Toronto Maple Leafs haven't been able to get things together over the last two weeks. The Tampa Bay Lightning, meanwhile, are starting to pick up steam. The Maple Leafs try to snap a season-worst five-game losing streak Wednesday night when they host the Lightning, who continue to play without captain Vincent Lecavalier. After allowing an average of just 2.5 goals in opening 15-9-0, Toronto (15-12-2) has surrendered a combined 20 during an 0-3-2 skid. While Joffrey Lupul scored twice in his first game back since missing 25 due to a forearm injury, the Maple Leafs came up short again Saturday in a 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg. "I think we just have to take responsibility and look at ourselves in the mirror and say, 'This can't be happening to this hockey club,'" said coach Randy Carlyle, whose team erased a three-goal deficit to send the game into overtime. "We hit three posts in the shootout, that's just the way it's going right now. The positive we have to take out of it is we again found a way to get a point, move on and get ourselves ready." While Toronto took all four matchups from the Lightning (13-15-1) last season, it suffered a 4-2 road defeat Feb. 19. Lecavalier, who opened the scoring that night, has 40 points over his last 30 games in the series but will miss his fourth straight contest due to a lower-body injury. Following a 4-13-1 stretch, Tampa Bay is coming off its third win in four games, 4-2 over Philadelphia on Monday. Anders Lindback made 28 saves as the Lightning improved to 12-1-0 when leading after the first period. "That's a big win. Every game - we need to get points right now," said Steven Stamkos, who scored his NHL-leading 21st goal on an empty-netter and added an assist. "That's the way we have to play if we want to be successful here down the stretch." At 23 years, 41 days, Stamkos became the fourth-youngest player to reach 200 goals. He trails only Wayne Gretzky (21 years, 256 days), Mario Lemieux (22 years, 148 days) and Dale Hawerchuk (22 years, 266 days). "I don't think it's a huge milestone, but that's something nice," he said. "It wasn't a highlight reel goal by any means. Obviously I want to keep producing, helping the team win." Stamkos has 23 points in the last 17 games and Martin St. Louis has 14 over a 10-game stretch. Although the Lightning sit outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Carlyle knows better than to take them lightly, especially with his goaltenders struggling. "There's a hockey club that, when you have a Stamkos and you have a St. Louis ... they're a hockey club that is trying to find their way," Carlyle said. "They got a big win (Monday) night, so they're going to be coming in on a high." Toronto's James Reimer stopped all seven shots after replacing an ineffective Ben Scrivens to start the third period Saturday. Reimer, though, has allowed four goals in three straight and four of his last five starts. Scrivens is 0-3-0 with a 3.97 goals-against average over his last five games. "We'd like for somebody to show us that they're going to grab the net," Carlyle said. The Maple Leafs are hoping to get a boost from former first-round pick Jake Gardiner, who was called up for the second time Tuesday. The defenseman recorded 30 points as a rookie last season.

Lightning sign Slater Koekkoek to 3-year deal

TAMPA, Fla. The Tampa Bay Lightning signed 2012 first-round pick Slater Koekkoek to a standard three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced Wednesday. Koekkoek, a Manotik, Ontario, native, played in 42 games in the Ontario Hockey League this season and has appeared in 133 career OHL games with the Peterborough Petes and Windsor Spitfires, earning 18 goals and 70 points....

Maple Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens posts picture of nasty bruise on Twitter

Being an NHL goalie isn’t without it’s problems.  Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens posted a picture of a nasty bruise on his arm on Twitter on Monday and it is impressive.  Scrivens was pulled after two periods against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday when he gave up four goals and the Maple Leafs ended up losing to Winnipeg in a shootout 5-4.  It’s not clear whether...

Toronto snaps 5-game skid in win over Tampa

TORONTO (AP) -- Nazem Kadri had three assists and Joffrey Lupul added a goal and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a five-game winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night. Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin also scored for Toronto. Kadri's three points tied a career high, and he had a chance at a fourth point but was...

Ryan Malone and Victor Hedman out for the Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that Ryan Malone is out indefinitely and listed defensemen Victor Hedman as day-to-day. Both were hurt in Monday night’s win against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Malone missed 13 games this season and just came off of injured reserve under two weeks ago. He suffered a shoulder injury after the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo drove into his left shoulder...

The Good, The Bad and The Return of Jake Gardiner

I apologize for my absence recently, I was on vacation in Florida and was unable to watch the games. But let’s talk about this game instead. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight by a score of 4-2 in Jake Gardiner’s first game since being recalled (finally) from the AHL yesterday. In the [...]

Joffrey Lupul's dirty hit to the head on Victor Hedman

This is an illegal hit to the head and a violation of rule 48. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffery Lupul is going to get a call from the Department of Player Safety and if he isn't suspended, I will be very surprised. Apparently, this isn't the first time that Victory Hedman has been hit with a questionable and dirty hit this week. Zac Rinaldo also caught Hedman with a very...

Mike Augello: Nonis Open To Buying And Selling At Deadline

Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis made the rounds on Toronto radio Tuesday and indicated that he is open to moving players and adding players in advance of April 3rd trade deadline. “We’re gonna be in the mix with a bunch of teams and I’ve been asked if we’re going to be a buyer or seller and I think the answer there is the possibility of both.” Nonis said to...

Michael Stuart: Stamkos Scores 200th Career Goal, Lightning Beat Flyers

The Tampa Bay Lightning needed a win. The Tampa Bay Lightning won. In another incredibly strong performance, the Bolts came out soaring against the Philadelphia Flyers. With goals from likely and unlikely sources combined with yet another solid performance from Anders Lindback, the Bolts managed to leap-frog the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings. While the road to the...

Michael Stuart: Lightning Meet Flyers for Key Conference Match-up

It’s do or die for the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they get set to take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Trailing the Flyers by two points and with a game in hand, the Lightning have a huge opportunity to make up some much needed ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Despite a lot of less than inspiring performances this year, the Lightning...

Michael Stuart: Lightning Arrive at Air Canada Centre for Must Win Contest

The Tampa Bay Lightning are at the Air Canada Centre this evening where they will attempt to build on what has been a fairly impressive little run. Coming off back-to-back wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers, the Lightning arrive in Toronto having already beaten the Maple Leafs earlier this season at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tonight, the challenge will...
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