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Match Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


TEAM UPDATES

James Reimer will get the start in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight as they look to build off a 4-3 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. Reimer has posted a 2-6-0 record in his career against the Lightning with a 3.11 goals-against average.

"Just play your game, I think we played pretty well last game and we've had a good couple of practices here. I think that if we play the way we can it should be a good game," said Reimer. "Obviously these guys are at the top of the standings for a reason. They're a great squad, they play their game well and they've got a bunch of really skilled players. I've got faith in our team and it should be good."

The Leafs lineup will have some flux with healthy bodies returning to the lineup, there will be plenty of options for Peter Horachek up front. Players who don't play the front leg of the back-to-back — Casey Bailey, Brandon Kozun, Joakim Lindstrom, et al. — will more than likely suit up on Wednesday night in Buffalo.

"They're very well coached, they have big D and they have skilled forwards. Their forwards are very skilled. They obviously have a difference maker in Stamkos but they have a lot of quality, character guys — Callahan, even on the fourth line a guy like Morrow who has been a captain on a team before, guys like Filppula who come through the Detroit chain and the work ethic they bring," said Horachek on the Lightning. "They have speed, they have skill, they have young players. You look at Drouin and Kucherov and Namestnikov, those guys are high-end skill players that play a well coached game and have good leadership around them."

Tampa Bay comes to Toronto from Montreal where they defeated the Canadiens on Monday night. Andrei Vasilevskiy will be the projected starter after Ben Bishop earned the win last night in goal for a banged up Lightning squad.

The Lightning recalled 2012 first round pick Slater Koekkoekk on Tuesday morning after Victor Hedman was injured on Monday night. Koekkoek is expected to make his NHL debut while Hedman is questionable for Tampa.

RECENT RESULTS

The Leafs last played on Saturday night and earned a 4-3 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators at Air Canada Centre. They are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

Toronto is 20-17-1 at home this season.

The Lightning continue to finish their season on a strong note as they approach the playoffs, beating the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night by a 5-3 score. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10.

Tampa Bay is 17-15-6 on the road this season.

LAST MEETING

The Leafs and Lightning faced off last in early March at Amalie Arena. The home side took a 4-2 win as Vladislav Namestnikov scored the game winning goal for Tampa Bay. David Booth and Richard Panik scored for the Leafs as Ben Bishop picked up the win over Jonathan Bernier.

The Lightning lead the season series by a 2-1-0 margin.

ONE TO WATCH

Jonathan Drouin

The third overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft has broken through with Tampa Bay in 2014-15, and has consistently improved throughout his rookie season. While Drouin has been carefully managed by Jon Cooper and his coaching staff, he has shown what made him such a prized prospect two years ago.

Injuries have necessitated Drouin's shift upwards in the lineup, but he has thrived in controlled minutes to this point in the season. The Lightning have had 54.7 per cent of the shot attempts taken with Drouin on the ice. They have put him in a position to succeed with 58.6 per cent of his faceoffs coming in the offensive zone.

One of the luxuries that come with having a player of Steven Stamkos' calibre in your lineup is he tends to free up ice for teammates who may not draw the toughest defensive assignments. If the Leafs lock in on Stamkos and his line, Drouin's unit have the ability to impose themselves.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Here's how the Leafs and Lightning are expected to line up tonight...

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

21 van Riemsdyk - 42 Bozak - 81 Kessel

19 Lupul - 43 Kadri - 20 Booth

47 Komarov - 23 Smith - 37 Bailey

22 Sill - 53 Carrick - 18 Panik

Defence

2 Brewer - 3 Phaneuf

51 Gardiner - 44 Rielly

33 Erixon - 25 Brennan

Goaltenders

34 Reimer

45 Bernier

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

17 Killorn - 51 Filppula - 91 Stamkos

27 Drouin - 13 Paquette - 24 Callahan

18 Palat - 90 Namestnikov - 86 Kucherov

10 Morrow - 11 Boyle - 23 Brown

Defence

89 Nesterov - 6 Stralman

25 Carle - 8 Barberio

29 Koekkoek - 53 Witkowski

Goaltenders

88 Vasilevskiy

30 Bishop

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