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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
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
HOU 4
BAL 1
Final
KAN 1
NYY 5
Final
MIA 1
PIT 5
Final
WAS 2
CHC 3
Final
CWS 9
TOR 10
Final
COL 1
CIN 2
Final
PHI 4
NYM 5
Final
SEA 7
TAM 6
Final
TEX 4
CLE 3
Final
BOS 1
MIN 2
Final
SFG 6
MIL 3
Final
ARI 4
STL 6
Final
DET 1
OAK 0
Final
SDP 4
ANA 0
Final
ATL 0
LOS 8
12:10pm Today
TEX
CLE
 
12:35pm Today
COL
CIN
 
12:35pm Today
MIA
PIT
 
12:37pm Today
CWS
TOR
 
1:05pm Today
KAN
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
BOS
MIN
 
1:10pm Today
PHI
NYM
 
1:10pm Today
SEA
TAM
 
1:40pm Today
SFG
MIL
 
3:35pm Today
DET
OAK
 
4:35pm Today
HOU
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
WAS
CHC
 
8:15pm Tonight
ARI
STL
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
 
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
 
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
Final
ATL 88
CLE 118
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
Final
NYR 7
TAM 3
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI
 
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR