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Lightning start road trip; Leafs look to close ground

Monday, 01.27.2014 / 1:48 PM

LIGHTNING (31-16-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (27-21-6)

TV: TSN, SUN

Last 10: Tampa Bay 6-3-1; Toronto 6-3-1

Season series: This is the first of four games between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. They last met April 24, 2013, a 5-2 Lightning win in which Martin St. Louis scored a hat trick.

Big story: Toronto looks to avoid its fifth three-game losing streak of the season; the Lightning have won three games in a row, including a 4-1-0 road mark in their past five games, as they vie with the Bruins for the Atlantic Division lead.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Tampa Bay used a hat trick from Tyler Johnson and 25 saves from Ben Bishop to beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday. The Lightning begin a four-game road trip in Toronto, knowing how critical it will be to pick up points.

"We've got an eight-game stretch -- six against divisional opponents. We want to keep this distance we have away from other teams," coach Jon Cooper said after practice Monday. "We haven't played Toronto yet -- we have four coming up with them in the next two months. Pivotal games."

Steven Stamkos, recovering from a broken tibia, took the ice before practice and didn't feel great. He instead had an off-ice workout Monday after practicing with the team on Saturday.

"Didn't feel the best this morning so I didn't want to risk anything. …You have to be prepared for really good days and some days where it doesn't feel so good. Obviously I've had a lot more good days than bad days lately," Stamkos said.

Maple Leafs: Toronto recently won six games in a row but has dropped two games since then. The latest setback was a 5-4 overtime loss to the Jets on Saturday, which completed Toronto's road trip with a 2-1-1 mark.

Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk both left practice Monday with injuries, although neither appeared to be serious, according to the Toronto Star, and coach Randy Carlye said they would both play Tuesday.

"I've [been] told as of this morning, they will be available for tomorrow," Carlyle said after practice. "We've got people with taped elbows and taped wrists and ankles. Those things happen over the course of the season."

The Maple Leafs enter the game seven points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

Who's hot: Johnson has four goals and four assists in five games for the Lightning. Bishop has allowed more than two goals only three times in his past 15 games. … Kessel has five goals in five games for the Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri has points in five of six games (one goal, six assists).

Injury report: In addition to Stamkos, Lightning defensemen Brian Lee (knee) and Mattias Ohlund (knee) are on injured reserve. … The Maple Leafs have three players on IR: forwards David Clarkson (elbow), Dave Bolland (ankle) and Trevor Smith (hand). The latter two skated Monday at practice in non-contact jerseys.

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