|Lightning at Maple Leafs Spread, Moneyline, Trends & Matchup|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Monday, 27 October 2008 21:05|
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Ontario, Canada - All the Tampa Bay Lightning got out of another solid defensive effort over the weekend was another frustrating defeat.
The Lightning seek more from their offense Tuesday when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After Tampa Bay (1-3-3) finished with the fewest wins in the league last season, the team seems to be picking up where it left off in 2008-09.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Toronto -134 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Toronto -134 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
The Lightning opened with a franchise-record five straight losses before rallying for a 3-2 win over visiting Atlanta on Tuesday, but faltered again Saturday in a 3-0 home defeat to San Jose.
Mike Smith made 42 saves to improve his save percentage to .941, but the effort went to waste wasn't as the Lightning managed only 22 shots and endured their second shutout in three games.
"We've got to figure out what's going on with this team," new coach Barry Melrose said.
Smith and offseason acquisition Olaf Kolzig have held opponents to 18 goals, but Tampa Bay has a league-low 11 of its own.
"It was very embarrassing," Melrose, back behind the bench after a 13-year absence, said Saturday. "Our goaltending has been great every game. But we've scored 11 goals in seven games. It doesn't take Albert Einstein to figure out that's not enough."
Vincent Lecavalier led the Lightning with 40 goals and 92 points last season, while Martin St. Louis posted a team-high 58 assists and was second with 83 points. The pair has totaled four goals and five assists thus far, and was held to a combined four shots versus the Sharks.
The man advantage hasn't helped, either. Tampa Bay has scored on only three of its 32 power-play opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs (3-2-3) have killed off seven straight and 17 of their last 19 penalties, including two in a 3-2 victory over visiting Ottawa on Saturday.
Dominic Moore, Mikhail Grabovski and Alexei Ponikarovsky each scored, while Vesa Toskala made 22 saves to help the Maple Leafs win their second straight and earn at least a point for the fifth time in their last six games.
"I would say that was our smartest game so far," said Toskala, who improved to 3-1-2 with a 2.61 GAA in seven starts.
Toskala is 2-1-1 with a 1.74 GAA in four starts versus Tampa Bay.
Smith stopped 23 of 25 shots in his lone career appearance against Toronto - a 3-2 overtime win at home on Feb. 29 - and Kolzig is 4-2-0 with a 1.84 GAA in his last six games versus the Maple Leafs.
Tampa Bay plays seven of its next eight games on the road, where it went a league-worst 11-24-6 last season.
The Lightning split four games with the Maple Leafs last season, but have dropped six straight in Toronto.
Lecavalier has nine goals and 23 points in his last 15 games against the Maple Leafs, while St. Louis has eight goals and 25 points in 30 career matchups with Toronto.
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Posted: 10/28/08 2:07 AM