With the Leafs looking to stay within distance of the eighth and final playoff spot, tonight sees the team hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have given the Leafs all kinds of headaches this year, as they look to close out the season series with a 4-0 sweep.
While the Lightning’s slight struggles recently make this is a very winnable game for the home-side, it’s also a crucial must win regardless – the ground made up by the Leafs on Saturday night was quickly taken away in the form of a Sabres win yesterday.
Right now the Leafs sit six points behind both Buffalo and New York, while holding a game in hand on the Rangers.
Toronto simply cannot allow the Rangers or Sabres an opportunity to put eight points between them and the postseason at this point.
James Reimer will see his twelfth straight start for the Leafs, and will face a Leaf-killer in Dwayne Roloson for the Lightning. Roloson, along with the Sabres’ Ryan Miller have always given the Leafs a ton of trouble over the past few seasons. However, if there’s one thing we can take from the past couple months, it’s that this young Toronto team is capable of taking down games that we’d normally write-off as “just another loss.”
From Jonas Siegel at the Eat.Sleep.Leafs Blog, here is the Leafs lineup for tonight:
MacArthur – Grabovski – Kulemin
Lupul – Bozak – Kessel
Armstrong – Boyce – Crabb
Sjostrom/Rosehill – Brent* – Brown
Aulie – Phaneuf
Gunnarsson – Schenn
Lebda – Komisarek
* Brent will wear a visor, but looks to be ready to go tonight despite sustaining an injury in Saturday night’s win against the Sabres
Wilson will have to make a decision on Sjostrom, as he’s ready to return. He will take Rosehill’s spot if inserted back into the lineup.
Nik Kulemin has potted two goals over the previous three meetings with the Lightning
St. Louis, Gagne and Stamkos have notched three points apiece against the Leafs this season (Gagne has scored the game-winner twice)
The Lightning have shut out the Leafs twice in three meetings (2-0, 4-0)
Dwayne Roloson has a 0.49 GAA and .982 SvP against Toronto this season
The puck drops at 7pm EST at the ACC. Sportsnet Ontario will carry the broadcast.