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Lightning at Maple Leafs preview

Tampa Bay trying to stay on pace to tie NHL wins record; Gardiner game-time decision for Toronto

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (60-16-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (46-27-7)

7 p.m. ET; TSN4, SUN, NHL.TV


The Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to get closer to matching the NHL record for most wins in a season when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.

The Lightning's 60 wins are tied with the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for second-most in a season. The 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings hold the record with 62. Tampa Bay has two games remaining, against Toronto on Thursday and at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner will be a game-time decision. He has missed the past 18 games with a back injury.


Players to watch

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games. His 125 points (39 goals, 86 assists) are two from tying the NHL record for most points by a Russia-born player, set by Alexander Mogilny with 127 in 1992-93.

Maple Leafs forward John Tavares has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in his past seven games.


They said it

"It's just the competitive nature that comes out in everyone. They want to win every time we come to the rink. Whatever records have come along the way, they've come as a result of us continuing to want to be better as a team." -- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos

"I think it's a good test facing a team like the Lightning both for me and the team preparing for the playoffs. They lead the stats in almost everything so you can't really get better preparation than this." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Steven Stamkos -- Tyler Johnson

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Mathieu Joseph

Adam Erne -- Cedric Paquette -- Ryan Callahan

Braydon Coburn -- Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Jan Rutta

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Edward Pasquale

Scratched: Danick Martel, J.T. Miller, Cameron Gaunce

Injured: Dan Girardi (lower body), Victor Hedman (upper body), Louis Domingue (lower body)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Patrick Marleau -- Auston Matthews -- Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner

Andreas Johnsson -- William Nylander -- Connor Brown

Tyler Ennis -- Frederik Gauthier -- Trevor Moore

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Calle Rosen -- Travis Dermott

Frederik Andersen

Garret Sparks

Scratched: Nic Petan, Justin Holl, Igor Ozhiganov, Martin Marincin

Injured: Nazem Kadri (undisclosed), Jake Muzzin (undisclosed)


Status report

Girardi, who last played March 7, took part in the morning skate. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he could play Saturday. … Johnsson will return after missing the past two games with an illness. Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Kadri and Muzzin are unavailable. He said one is ill and the other isn't but gave no further details.


Stat pack

Stamkos has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in his past eight games and is two points from matching his NHL career-high of 97 points in 2011-12. … Marner has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past seven games.

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