Lightning (8-6-1, 17 Points) vs. Bruins (9-2-2, 20 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports; AM 970 WFLA
The Lightning will host the Bruins for the only time this season, with the other two matchups being played in Boston on March 2 and April 25, respectively. Last season the Lightning split the season series against Boston, going 2-2-0, but won each of the contests played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay pulled into a first-place tie with the Carolina Hurricanes following Tuesday night’s 4-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning’s second straight victory after snapping a six-game winless streak. The Bolts will look to make it three in a row, that is if they can get past a Bruins team that rebounded from a two-game skid with a 3-2 win against Winnipeg on Sunday.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up its two-game homestand Thursday against the Bruins before hitting the road for a back-to-back set at Carolina and Pittsburgh, respectively. Following Thursday night’s tilt against Boston, the Lightning will then play six of their next seven games on the road. At least in the club’s previous two games, Tampa Bay has appeared to get back to its early season form that was responsible for the team’s spectacular start. The Bolts have scored a total of 10 goals over their past two games, and at least on Tuesday against Toronto, won with defense, as the team limited the Maple Leafs’ scoring chances, while also holding them to just 25 shots. Alex Killorn’s goal at 2:49 of the final period stood as the game-winner, while Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Matt Carle also scored to support a 23-save effort by Anders Lindback.
BRUINS – Boston will play a game for the first time since Sunday, a 3-2 win over Winnipeg, and comes to Tampa Bay well rested. The Bruins will then play each of the next two games on the road, coming Sunday and Tuesday, respectively. After beginning the month of February with three consecutive victories and points in four straight, the Bruins have slipped just slightly as of late, losing two of three. Boston’s two-game slide came to a halt this past Sunday, when Tyler Seguin, Daniel Paille and Brad Marchand each scored to lead the Bruins to a slim one-goal victory over the Jets. Not only did the Bruins get back in the win column with the victory, but it improved the team’s road record to 5-1-1, which it brings into the Times Forum to put to the test against the Lightning.
Vincent Lecavalier has two goals and three assists during a five-game points streak for the Lightning, while Steven Stamkos has netted three goals in the past two games. Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis each are also riding active four-game point streaks. For the Bruins, goaltender Tuukka Rask is 3-0-1 in his past four starts, giving up just six goals in that span. Brad Marchand also has goals in three of the last four games.
LIGHTNING – Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Ryan Malone (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). BRUINS - Boston had a host of players miss practice earlier in the week due to flu-like symptoms, but they all made the trip to Tampa.
Connections: Lightning forward Benoit Pouliot recorded a career-high 32 points as a member of the Bruins last season, playing in 74 games with Boston. Nate Thompson was also drafted by Boston in the sixth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and skated in four games with the team during the 2006-07 season.
Twitter Stat Pack:
The Lightning enter tonight's game with the league's top home power play at 35.0 percent, while the Bruins own the league's top road penalty kill at 96.3 percent. Tampa Bay has scored 14 times on the man-advantage at the Times Forum, while the Bruins have only allowed one power play goal against on the road. The Lightning outscored the Bruins 6-1 in the first period last season. Tampa Bay's penalty killing unit was a perfect 16-for-16 against the Bruins last season during the four games. The Lightning have scored 12 goals over their past three games and rank first in the NHL with 59 goals this season.
“They’re a confident group and they don’t really have a lot of flaws. They’ll attack if we don’t defend against their strengths, and they’re smart, well-coached and their physicality is second to none. It’s a big challenge, but we’re looking to get better each and every game. The bigger challenge, the bigger the response, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on the tough test that the Bruins present
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