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Surging Maple Leafs wrap up Florida trip

by Brian Hunter

MAPLE LEAFS (10-6-0) at LIGHTNING (7-6-1)


Last 10: Toronto 7-3-0; Tampa Bay 4-5-1

Season series: First of three meetings this season. The Maple Leafs had their way with the Lightning last season, taking all four matchups by a 20-7 aggregate score.

Big story: Remember back when Toronto just had to go out and acquire Roberto Luongo to solve its goaltending deficiencies? All of a sudden that's not such an issue, even with starter James Reimer sidelined by a knee injury. Ben Scrivens, undrafted and with 16 NHL games to his credit prior to relieving Reimer in a Feb. 11 game against Philadelphia, has recorded back-to-back shutouts since assuming the No. 1 job and stopped 133 of 137 shots over his last four appearances.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: There have been stretches in recent seasons where Toronto teased its fans into thinking a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth might be in the cards. While it remains to be seen what the next two-plus months will bring, the Maple Leafs are now one-third of the way through the abbreviated 48-game schedule after Monday's 3-0 win in Florida, and on pace for 60 points. Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur all scored to support Scrivens' masterful 37-save effort against the Panthers.

"We don't want to get overly excited," MacArthur said. "It's really early yet. We want to keep building. Our team is getting better and better. Our goalies have been playing great. It's something where it's a good feeling we're building something here but we don't get too excited."

Lightning: For a team that hadn't tasted victory in more than two weeks, a visit to its intra-state rival was just the medicine Tampa Bay needed. Benoit Pouliot scored a pair of goals, the second coming 1:19 into overtime, and the Lightning snapped out of an 0-5-1 skid with a 6-5 victory on Saturday night against the Panthers. Teddy Purcell forced the extra period by scoring with 10.4 seconds left in regulation. Steven Stamkos started the two-goal, third-period rally with a power-play marker.

"There's a lot of adversity we've been battling," coach Guy Boucher said. "We almost came back the last game and the game before that, and I'm just happy that this time it paid off."

Who's hot: Dion Phaneuf has two goals and four assists during a five-game points streak for the Maple Leafs. Kadri has two goals and three assists in his last four games. … Stamkos had two goals and an assist Saturday for the Lightning to give him 21 points in 14 games. Purcell (2-3-5), Pouliot (2-2-4) and Martin St. Louis (1-4-5) have three-game points streaks active. Vincent Lecavalier (1-3-4) has a four-game points streak.

Injury report: In addition to Reimer, Toronto has defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (hip) and forwards Matt Frattin (knee) and Joffrey Lupul (forearm) are on injured reserve. … Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone (lower body) is on injured reserve.

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