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Without Stamkos, Lightning play host to Leafs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to wait until after the Olympic break to get star centerman Steven Stamkos back, but the club hopes to avoid a fourth loss in five games when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs without him on Thursday night.

There was talk earlier this week that Stamkos would return for Saturday's home game against Detroit, the Lightning's final tilt before the NHL goes on hiatus for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but on Wednesday it was announced that the sniper has not been cleared for game action by Dr. Ira Gutentag. The decision not only postpones Stamkos' return to the Lightning, but also will prevent him from representing Team Canada at the Winter Games.

The 23-year-old suffered a fractured tibia in a game against Boston on Nov. 11 and has missed the last 39 games while recovering. Stamkos was tied for the NHL lead in goals (14) and points (23) before the setback.

"After reviewing the CT scan this afternoon, Dr. Gutentag made it clear to me and to Steven that the tibia is not completely healed and therefore he should not be participating in game action at any time in the near future," said Steve Yzerman, who is the general manager of the Lightning and the executive director of Team Canada.

"Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens. It was a pretty clear cut decision, no gray areas at all."

Stamkos will continue to rehabilitate and is expected to be re-evaluated in 2- to-3 weeks. The Lightning will resume play after the Olympic break on Feb. 27 at Nashville.

"Today is obviously very disappointing for me," Stamkos said. "I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing."

It was announced Thursday morning that Stamkos will be replaced on Team Canada's roster for the Sochi Games by his Lightning teammate Martin St. Louis, who will be participating at his second Olympics and first since the 2006 Turin Games. The 38-year-old winger has 25 goals and 54 points to lead Tampa this season.

The Lightning have performed extremely well without Stamkos in the lineup over the last few months and they enter Thursday in second place in the Atlantic Division.

However, Tampa's 1-3-0 record over a recent four-game road trip has helped the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens move within three points of the Lightning for the division's second spot. The top-three teams in each division receive automatic bids to the playoffs.

The Lightning downed the Canadiens 2-1 in overtime Saturday in Montreal before losing in regulation Tuesday night at Minnesota. Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 Tampa Bay shots in the Wild's close victory in St. Paul.

Valtteri Filppula scored in the loss and Ben Bishop made 24 saves for the Lightning.

"We worked harder (than the last game) we just didn't work smarter," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That was a big problem."

The Lightning fell to 16-13-2 as the guest after its recent trip, but will play their final two games before the break at Tampa Bay Times Forum, where they are 16-6-3 this season.

The Maple Leafs will try to rebound on Thursday after having a three-game winning streak halted with Tuesday's 4-1 loss at Florida. David Clarkson provided the lone goal for Toronto, while Jonathan Bernier allowed three goals on 47 shots in the setback.

"The word to describe it is, we didn't have anything going except one person in the lineup is outstanding for our hockey club and that was our goaltender," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "We didn't seem to have any jump or passion to play the game, and it's kind of mind-boggling right now."

After completing its two-game tour of the Sunshine State tonight, the Leafs will complete their pre-Olympic schedule on home ice when they host Vancouver on Saturday. Toronto is 20-10-1 as the home team this season compared to a sub-par 10-12-5 mark as the guest.

The Leafs recorded a 3-2 regulation win over the visiting Lightning on Jan. 28, as Bernier stopped 40-of-42 shots and Nazem Kadri provided two goals for Toronto. It was the first of four scheduled meetings between the clubs this season and it was Toronto's sixth win in the last eight meetings against the Bolts.

The Lightning have won two straight and five of the last seven meetings in Central Florida.

02/06 11:16:28 ET

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Schedule

Saturday, April 19Full Scoreboard
Chicago3Final(OT) | Box
St. Louis «4Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. St. Louis leads series, 2-0.
Columbus «4Final(OT2) | Box
Pittsburgh3Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Minnesota2Final | Box
Colorado «4Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Colorado leads series, 2-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR