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Maple Leafs aim to snap skid against Lightning

9:44 AM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to get back into the playoff picture following a big win on Monday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are just trying to get back into the win column.

The Leafs try to avoid a sixth straight loss on Wednesday evening and deny the visiting Lightning a third victory in a row.

Toronto is 0-3-2 in its last five games and is in danger of dropping six in a row for the first time since Feb. 18-29 of last season (0-5-1). The Maple Leafs lost 22 of their final 29 games in 2011-12 to miss the playoffs for a seventh straight year.

With the recent slide, Toronto is tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference with 32 points along with three other teams.

It was the Jets that handed the Leafs their most recent loss, a 5-4 home shootout setback on Saturday. Toronto gave up four straight goals in the second period to fall behind by three, but Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul scored just 25 seconds apart in the frame and Phil Kessel forced overtime on a goal 5:50 into the third.

The shootout then went 10 rounds, with the Jets scoring twice and the Leafs getting just one goal.

"That was an emotional roller coaster of a game we had," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. "That made it very hard to have a clear vision of what happened. But, it seems like we hit these spots of games where we can't execute anything."

Lupul was hitting his spots, scoring his first two goals of the season after sitting out 25 straight due to a fractured right forearm.

Ben Scrivens started in net but was pulled after the second period for allowing four goals on 26 shots. Reimer played the rest of the game and stopped all seven shots he faced in regulation and overtime.

The Lightning enter play five points back of a playoff spot and are tied for 11th in the East with Philadelphia after downing the Flyers 4-2 at home on Monday.

Teddy Purcell scored a tie-breaking goal in the third period and Steven Stamkos sealed the outcome with an empty-net tally. The goal was his league- leading 21st of the season and he became the fourth-fastest player in league history to reach the 200-goal mark.

Stamkos did so at the age of 23 years and 41 days, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Dale Hawerchuk, but downplayed the achievement afterwards.

"It's not something you go out and try and get when you're around that mark," said Stamkos. "I don't think it's a huge milestone, but it's something that's nice. Obviously I want to keep producing and helping this team win."

Ondrej Palat scored the second goal of his career in as many games, while Tom Pyatt also scored and Anders Lindback made 28 saves as Tampa won its second straight and third in four games.

The Lightning did lose forward Ryan Malone and defenseman Victor Hedman to upper body injuries in the game, while forward Vincent Lecavalier is not expected to be on the club's upcoming three-game trip through Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve last Thursday, two days after he suffered a lower body injury. A report out of the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday said that the Bolts' captain has a broken foot and could be sidelined for three weeks.

The Lightning were swept in the four-game series last season by the Maple Leafs, but won the first of three meetings in 2013 by a 4-2 margin at home on Feb. 19.

Tampa Bay had won five of its previous six in Toronto before losing both games there last season, one by a 7-3 score.

The Sports Network

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