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Lightning aim to end road woes in Toronto

by Brian Compton
LIGHTNING (27-27-11) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-33-12)

Last 10: Tampa Bay 4-6-0; Toronto 4-5-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Lightning have won twice, including a 3-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 21.

Big Story: If Tampa Bay has any chance of making the postseason -- it enters Thursday's action five points out of a playoff spot -- it has to start winning on the road. The Lightning have lost their last four away games. The good news is for Tampa Bay is that it has won its last three games at the Air Canada Centre.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Tampa Bay began its three-game road trip on the wrong foot on Tuesday night, when it dropped a 5-3 decision at Montreal. Steven Stamkos, who is having a brilliant season, extended his franchise-record points streak to 17 games with his 41st goal. He has 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) during this remarkable run.

"None of that's going to matter if we're not in the playoffs," Stamkos said after setting a team record with his 17th power-play goal. "I'm just trying to do my part and help this team win and that's creating offense. I'm going to keep doing that for the rest of the year."

Maple Leafs: Toronto bounced back from Sunday's 3-1 loss at Philadelphia by playing the role of spoiler on Tuesday night, when they earned a 4-3 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre. Nikolai Kulemin scored the game-winner after Luca Caputi tied the game in the third period in his first game since being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins last week. Caputi hails from Toronto.

"The fans gave me a pretty loud cheer there,'' Caputi said. "I can't really describe it right now. I think in the next couple days, hopefully it will sink in. I'm still in La-La land right now.''

Who's Hot: Stamkos' points streak is the second longest in the League this season. … Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson has wins in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 25-27.

Injury Report: Lightning defenseman David Hale is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right leg. Zenon Kenopka is expected to miss at least another week with a back injury, while Ryan Malone (upper body) is day-to-day. … Leafs forward Fredrik Sjostrom is out two weeks with a shoulder injury. Mike Van Ryn (knee) and Mike Komisarek (shoulder) are done for the season.

Stat Pack: Should Stamkos score 50 goals this season, he would become the third-youngest player in League history to reach the milestone. Wayne Gretzky first scored 50 goals at 19 years, two months with Edmonton in 1979-80, and Los Angeles' Jimmy Carson hit the half-century mark at 19 years, eight months in 1987-88. Stamkos turned 20 on Feb. 7.

Puck Drop: "I don't hear people talking about the struggles that he had in his first 40 games as a pro now (when he scored just 4 goals). It's a thing of the past. He's a great kid. He's sincere, humble and everything you'd want in a young athlete. He's developing his leadership abilities on the fly and that's really the next fun thing we'll see out of him -- his development as a world-class leader. And yet, he just turned 20." -- Lightning GM Brian Lawton on Steven Stamkos

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