The Toronto Maple Leafs (20-9-1) have the gang back together. Auston Matthews is healthy, and William Nylander has been signed to a contract extension; the only thing left for Toronto is to chase down the Tampa Bay Lightning (23-7-1) for first place in the standings. They’ll meet Thursday night in Florida; Sportsnet Ontario will provide the coverage at 7:30 PM ET.
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Matthews (16 goals in 16 games) made his return in late November after missing a month of action with a shoulder injury. Nylander (20 goals, plus-20 last year) has played twice since ending his contract holdout. Working both forwards into the fold could be tricky; the Leafs have suffered back-to-back losses while juggling their assignments in search of the right line combinations.
The Lightning, meanwhile, have remained on top despite losing No. 1 netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy (.927 save percentage) to a broken foot. Louis Domingue (.906 SV%) has a personal record of 10-3 in relief, although Tampa scored at least four goals in nine of those games. The Bolts are No. 1 in the league at 3.94 goals per game, driving the Over to a 16-13-2 record with Toronto second at 3.63 goals (Over 14-13-3).
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