January 15, 2007
TAMPA, Fla. — The Maple Leafs will get a boost in their forward ranks Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky were declared fit and ready to go for the start of a three-game Toronto road trip.
Ponikarovsky will be rejoined with captain Mats Sundin in the middle and likely Jeff O’Neill on the wing, as the Leafs try to rebound from a 6-1 drubbing at home to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Antropov’s position in the lines was not clear Monday afternoon after the Leafs practiced at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Lightning’s home rink here. Andrew Raycroft will get the start in goal.
Ponikarovsky has been out the past three weeks with a separated shoulder. Antropov hasn’t seen action since Dec. 5 due to an ankle injury.
Centre Alex Steen did not practice, staying in the team hotel with a stomach bug — he’ll be a game-time decision, said coach Paul Maurice, while Darcy Tucker skated but will not see action until later in the week. Steen had been playing on the Leafs’ top line in Ponikarovsky’s absence.
The Leafs go from here to Sunrise, Fla., against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, then finish up their pre-All Star break schedule in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Saturday.