Leafs hope to find spark in Tampa

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, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

While an offensive slump has the Maple Leafs mired in a five-game losing streak, the club has at least been able to manage a couple of points in its last two trips to the ice.

Toronto aims for its first victory in two weeks this evening when it visits the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum.

Loses in eight of their last nine games have wiped out all of the good feelings from the Maple Leafs 4-0 start and the club is currently on its longest losing streak since dropping six in a row from Jan. 19-30. Toronto has lost its last two games in a shootout, including a 5-4 decision in Washington last Wednesday before Saturday's 3-2 home setback to Buffalo.

Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin scored the goals and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 29 saves. He was beaten for the game-tying goal with just 13.1 seconds left in regulation.

"I thought we controlled the game pretty well," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said. "I had one line producing offense, and that was it ... we need more contributions from other people in a game like this, when we've got a team down on the mat and we didn't finish them off like we should have."

The Maple Leafs, who haven't won since Oct. 26, have been held to two goals or less four times on their current losing streak, getting shut out twice. Forwards Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur are tied for the club lead with seven goals, but Kessel hasn't scored in five straight games, while MacArthur has lit the lamp once in his last six contests.

Kessel has seven goals and 13 points in 15 career meetings with the Lightning, while Giguere is 5-1-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average versus them.

Tampa Bay returns home after a 1-2-1 road trip in which it lost the final three games. The Lightning were in San Jose on Saturday and were dealt a 5-2 loss.

Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist to give him a NHL-leading 22 points as well as at least one point in 11 of his 13 games this season. He has four goals and seven assists in his career when facing the Maple Leafs.

Martin St. Louis had the other goal and Mike Smith gave up five goals on 39 shots.

Dan Ellis is expected to make his first career start versus the Maple Leafs. He did face them once before in relief on Jan. 18 with Nashville, allowing a goal on 13 shots to take a loss.

Center Dominic Moore has missed Tampa Bay's last five games with a groin injury, but is expected to return to action tonight, as is defenseman Matt Smaby. He has sat out four straight with a sprained ankle.

Forward Steve Downie, though, is questionable with a back injury.

These two teams split four meetings last year, but the Lightning have won six of the last nine meetings overall. That includes a win in four of the last six played in Tampa.


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