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Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview and Game Day Thread

Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via Twitter @TBLightning

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #81

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Canadian Tire Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN, TVAS, TSN4

Opponent‘s Site: PPP Leafs

To prevent hockey fans from some meaningless hockey in the last days of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning will host the Toronto Maple Leafs, their first-round opponent, tonight at Amalie Arena. Both teams will have their last chance to know their opponent better one week before the start of postseason.

The Lightning are returning home from their three-game road trip with zero points in those games. Jon Cooper strongly criticized his own team after their loss to the Ottawa Senators in the previous game, noting that the team played like the season ended when they clinched their playoff spot and was very surprised, knowing this group for a long time. Over those three games, the Bolts were outscored 8-19, allowing 6+ goals in three consecutive games for the first time this season. While in the first game against the New York Rangers they lacked some finishing and played a solid game, the Lightning were outplayed in two other games, especially in Ottawa, when the opponent dominated them, controlling 69.28 xGF% at 5v5 in this game.

Speaking of their personnel, the Lightning somehow avoided getting into injury-related hole. Anthony Cirelli, Brandon Hagel and Erik Cernak, who missed the game against the Islanders, all returned to the line-up in Ottawa, as well as Pat Maroon, who didn’t finish that game. Tanner Jeannot, however, still remains sidelined. Per Jon Cooper, he will definitely miss Game 1 against Toronto, but is expected to return later in the series.

Unlike the Lightning, the Leafs didn’t have a day off yesterday, as they faced the Florida Panthers on Monday night. The Leafs defeated Florida 2-1 in overtime, extending their point-streak to four games, overall they’re 6-2-2 in their latest ten games.

In addition to already injured Calle Jarnkrok, Erik Gustafsson and Sam Lafferty also missed the latest game against Florida due to various injuries. While Luke Schenn replaced Gustafsson on blue line, a newly signed NCAA prospect Matthew Knies filled a vacant spot up front. Due to signing of Knies, the Leafs also didn’t have enough cap space for an emergency goaltending recall and were forced to sign an Owen Sound Attack goaltender Nick Chenard to an amateur tryout contract to dress him as a backup goaltender for the game against the Panthers.

This season, the Lightning and the Leafs played against each other two times. In the first game, the Bolts defeated Toronto 4-3 in overtime with Alex Killorn scoring a game-winning goal. That game was pretty close, the Lightning managed to outshoot their opponent, but both teams created pretty much the same amount of chances around the opponent’s net. Two weeks later, the Leafs were better, taking a 4-1 victory at their home ice. This game were more one-sided as the Leafs controlled the ice in the first two periods with only Andrey Vasilevskiy keeping the Lightning in the game. In the third period, the Bolts tried to attempt a comeback, but allowed two empty-netters at the end of the game instead.

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines


Brandon Hagel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos – Nick Paul – Alex Killorn

Ross Colton – Anthony Cirelli – Michael Eyssimont

Pat Maroon  – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Corey Perry


Victor Hedman – Nick Perbix

Mikhail Sergachev – Darren Raddysh

Ian Cole – Erik Cernak


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Toronto Maple Leafs Potential Lines


Michael Bunting – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner

John Tavares – Ryan O’Reilly – William Nylander

Alex Kerfoot –  Noel Acciari – Matthew Knies

Zach Aston-Reese – David Kämpf


Morgan Rielly – T.J. Brodie

Jake McCabe  – Justin Holl

Mark Giordano  – Timothy Liljegren

Luke Schenn


Ilya Samsonov

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