The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are first and second in the Atlantic Division, and as they prepare to meet Monday night, there's as much interest in whether either team will make a move before the trade deadline.
Toronto, trailing the Lightning by four points in the standings with two more games played, took a bold step Sunday, acquiring veteran center Tomas Plekanec from Montreal.
The 35-year-old, who had spent 15 seasons with the Canadiens, has six goals and 18 assists this season but has played largely in a checking role, neutralizing opponents' top lines.
At least initially, Plekanec will simply help offset the absence of center Auston Matthews, who is headed to injured reserve and likely out for a week as he deals with a shoulder injury. Center Mitch Marner has taken the team's points lead with 51 on 16 goals and 35 assists, putting him one point ahead of Matthews.
Will the Lightning (42-17-3) answer with a move of their own? They've been connected to some of the NHL's best available defensemen but have also made it clear they won't trade any assets from the current team to upgrade at the deadline.
Tampa Bay had dropped three of four games before a three-game sweep on their road trip last week, getting four goals each in wins at Washington, Ottawa and Montreal. The last came in a shootout Saturday, with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy making another spectacular behind-the-back save to clinch the win in shootout.
The Lightning have the best record in hockey, and they're entering a stretch with 10 of their next 11 games at home. Tampa Bay is 20-6-1 this season, among the NHL's best home records.
Nikita Kucherov remains the league's No. 1 overall scorer with 82 points, with Steven Stamkos not far behind with 70 on 24 goals and 46 assists.
The teams split two meetings in Toronto already this year and play again in Tampa on March 20.
The key matchup to watch is Tampa Bay's power play, ranked second in the league with a 24.8 percent success rate, against Toronto's strong penalty-kill unit, which ranks second in the league, stopping 83.4 percent of opponents' power plays.
By the time the teams take the ice, their lineups could be a little bit better for the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The Canadiens dealt Plekanec and prospect Kyle Baun to the Leafs on Sunday for defenseman Rinat Valiev, forward Kerby Rychel and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning VDB Sport Betting Odds and Predictions
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning Betting Odds
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1½ (-200)||+145||6 (-110)o|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-1½ +170)||-165||6 (-110)u|
Vegas Daily Betting Free Prediction: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning VDB Sport Betting Matchup Report
Betting Odds Trends
|Toronto is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games|
|Toronto is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games|
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Toronto's last 8 games|
|Toronto is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games on the road|
|Toronto is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games on the road|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Toronto's last 6 games on the road|
|Toronto is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Tampa Bay|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Toronto's last 5 games when playing Tampa Bay|
|Toronto is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Tampa Bay|
|The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Toronto's last 8 games when playing on the road against Tampa Bay|
|Tampa Bay is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games|
|Tampa Bay is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone OVER in 10 of Tampa Bay's last 12 games|
|Tampa Bay is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games at home|
|Tampa Bay is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games at home|
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Tampa Bay's last 8 games at home|
|Tampa Bay is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Toronto|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Tampa Bay's last 5 games when playing Toronto|
|Tampa Bay is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Toronto|
|The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Tampa Bay's last 8 games when playing at home against Toronto|
|Tomas Plekanec||C||Prob Mon - Acquired - 2/26/18||Plekanec was acquired in a trade and is expected to make his team debut against the Lightning on Monday.|
|Auston Matthews||C||Early March - Shoulder - 2/25/18||Matthews has been designated for the injured reserve list with a right shoulder injury and will likely need at least 10 days to recuperate.|
|Joffrey Lupul||LW||I-R - Conditioning - 9/26/17||Lupul has been deemed as unfit to play and the team has placed him on the long-term injured reserve list.|
|Ondrej Palat||LW||Mid March - Lower Body - 1/30/18||Palat has landed on injured reserve due to a lower-body injury and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.|
|Peter Budaj||G||Early March - Leg - 2/21/18||Budaj has been placed on the injured reserve list with a left leg injury and is expected to be sidelined until the early part of March.|
|2/12/18||TOR 4 - TB 3||-1.5, 250/6||TB/O|
|1/2/18||TOR 0 - TB 2||1.5, -254/6||TB/U|
|4/6/17||TOR 1 - TB 4||-1.5, 218/5.5||TB/U|
|3/16/17||TB 0 - TOR 5||-1.5, 256/5.5||TOR/U|
|12/29/16||TB 2 - TOR 3 (OT)||-1.5, 227/6||TOR/U|
|10/25/16||TOR 3 - TB 7||1.5, -247/5.5||TB/O|
|3/28/16||TB 3 - TOR 0||-1.5, 129/5||TB/U|
|3/15/16||TOR 4 - TB 1||1.5, -190/5||TOR/P|
|2/29/16||TOR 1 - TB 2||1.5, -210/5.5||TOR/U|
|1/27/16||TB 1 - TOR 0||-1.5, 133/5||TOR/U|
|Date||vs||Last Meeting||Line||ATS||Where||Last Meeting|
|2/26/18||@ TB||W 4-3||-1.5,250/6||L/O||TOR||2/12/18|
|2/27/18||@ FLA||W 1-0||-1.5,177/6||L/U||TOR||2/20/18|
|3/3/18||@ WAS||L 2-4||-1.5,230/5.5||L/O||TOR||11/25/17|
|3/5/18||@ BUF||W 4-2||-1.5,171/5.5||W/O||BUF||4/3/17|
|2/22/18||NYI||W 4-3 (SO)||-1.5,137/6.5||L/O||31||35||0/3||0/2|
|2/18/18||@ DET||W 3-2||-1.5,220/6||L/U||34||29||0/2||1/1|
|2/17/18||@ PIT||L 3-5||1.5,-230/6||P/O||32||39||1/2||0/1|
|2/7/18||NAS||W 3-2 (SO)||-1.5,250/5.5||L/U||32||46||0/2||0/2|
Tampa Bay Schedule/Results
|Date||vs||Last Meeting||Line||ATS||Where||Last Meeting|
|3/1/18||@ DAL||W 6-1||-1.5,166/6||W/O||TB||11/16/17|
|2/24/18||@ MON||W 4-3 (SO)||-1.5,162/6||L/O||39||32||2/5||1/4|
|2/22/18||@ OTT||W 4-3||-1.5,171/6||L/O||24||36||0/3||1/5|
|2/20/18||@ WAS||W 4-2||-1.5,217/6||W/P||19||37||1/2||1/2|
|2/13/18||@ BUF||L 3-5||-1.5,177/6||L/O||29||33||1/5||2/3|
|2/12/18||@ TOR||L 3-4||1.5,-284/6||W/O||34||23||0/2||0/1|
|2/5/18||@ EDM||L 2-6||-1.5,210/6||L/O||34||35||1/3||2/4|