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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, March 19th (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (37-24-7) at Toronto Maple Leafs (36-26-8), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - A crucial battle in the Eastern Conference playoff race is on tap Wednesday at Air Canada Centre, as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Tampa Bay Lighting in an Atlantic Division showdown.

Tampa Bay currently holds the last of the Atlantic's three automatic bids to the playoffs, but the Maple Leafs are just one point behind. Toronto is also in postseason position at the moment, occupying the first of the East's two wild card berths.

After winning the final three tests of a six-game homestand, the Lightning hope to carry some momentum on the road for tonight's important clash. So far in 2013-14, however, Tampa Bay has come up empty against the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is 2-0 against the Lightning this season and has won three of four and seven of the past nine meetings in this series. Tampa Bay also has lost four in a row at Air Canada Centre.

The Bolts dropped a 3-2 regulation decision in Toronto on Jan. 28 and were handed a 4-1 setback at home on Feb. 6. The clubs are set to meet once more in the regular season when the Leafs visit Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 8.

The Lightning began their recent homestand with three straight losses before beating Florida, New Jersey and Vancouver to post a solid 3-1-2 mark during the stay in Central Florida.

The brief surge has seen Tampa Bay log at least a point in five straight games and the Bolts would like to make it six-game point streak with another win on Wednesday.

"We've got points in five straight games at a time when we really need them," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper remarked. "Hopefully this is good momentum for us going on the road."

Tampa Bay is kicking off a three-game road trip on Wednesday and also will visit Ottawa and Pittsburgh during the swing. The Lighting are 17-16-2 as the visiting team this season.

The Lightning were last in action on Monday when they notched a 4-3 regulation win over the Canucks.

Ondrej Palat continued his five-game point streak with a goal and an assist to help Tampa down Vancouver. Palat, a 22-year-old Czech winger, has four goals and five assists during the run and has been a pleasant surprise for the Bolts this season, posting 18 goals and 46 points through 68 games.

Steven Stamkos also registered a goal and an assist in the Lightning's third straight victory. Valtteri Filppula and Tom Pyatt also scored while goaltender Ben Bishop made 25 stops in the win.

Bishop expects to start tonight for Tampa, but the former Ottawa Senator is just 2-4-0 with a 3.05 goals against average and .884 save percentage in seven career games against Toronto.

Toronto has struggled of late, losing two straight and three of its last four games. The Leafs hope to get back on track Wednesday when they play the first test of a two-game homestand. The residency also includes Saturday's important divisional tilt against the rival Canadiens.

The Maple Leafs are 22-11-1 as the home team this season compared to a 14-15-7 mark on the road.

Toronto wrapped a five-game road trip on Tuesday with a 3-2 regulation loss in Detroit. Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals to lead the Red Wings to the close victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Jake Gardiner and James van Riemsdyk had one goal apiece for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer allowed all three goals on 31 shots.

"It was average. There was some good and bad throughout the five games," Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said of the team's five-game road trip.

Jonathan Bernier sat out his second straight game with a strained groin and the club's No. 1 goaltender is considered day-to-day. Reimer could get the start on back-to-back nights and is 2-3-0 with a 2.94 GAA in five career games against Tampa Bay.

Drew MacIntyre, who has been serving as the backup with Bernier sidelined, has not seen action in an NHL game since making two appearances with Buffalo during the 2011-12 season.

03/19 10:37:58 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
Final
LAL 94
DEN 101
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
Final
NE 65
MAN 51
Final
COLST 75
MERC 62
Final
MISS 80
NARZ 74
Final
WASH 76
PAC 69
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
Final
CHAR 58
MIAMI 77
Final
GAELS 72
UCI 69
Final
ILLST 64
ODU 45
Final
UCLA 77
LBSU 63
Final
SEAT 62
MONT 66
 
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
 
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
 
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
 
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
 
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
 
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
 
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
 
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
 
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
 
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
 
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
 
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
 
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
Final
ANA 2
ARI 1
Final
VAN 4
CHI 1
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
Final
NYG 28
DAL 31
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL