Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0, 0 Points) vs. Boston Bruins (0-0-0, 0 Points)
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Both kicking-off their regular season slates tonight. Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest between the Lightning and Bruins is the first of four meetings between the new Atlantic Division rivals this year. It is also the first of two games at TD Garden. The Bolts were blanked by Boston in three games last season and have not earned a win against the Bruins since March 2012.
The Big Story:
Playing in the first of three consecutive games on the road, Tampa Bay heads to Chicago and Buffalo after tonight, before returning to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to play seven straight home games. The Lightning face the last four teams standing (Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings) in the 2012-13 Stanley Cup Finals, including the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks within the first two weeks. Tampa Bay averaged the third-most goals per game (3.06) last season, while the Bruins ranked third in the league at allowing the least goals per game (2.21).
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay is looking to snap a seven-game road losing streak that dates back to last season. The Lightning have faced the Bruins once before to open the season during the 2003-04 campaign, defeating Boston in tilt and going on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Ranking third in the Atlantic Division with a 5-2-0 record at the conclusion of the 2013 preseason, netminder Ben Bishop posted a 2-0-0 record with a 2.60 goals-against average in three games. Tampa Bay reached their 23-man roster Sunday with forwards Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat making up a rookie line for the Bolts, while blueliners Mark Barberio and Andrej Sustr also made the final cut.
BRUINS – Finding themselves as part of a new division for the first time since 1993, it is also the first time Boston will face Tampa Bay as members of the same division. The Bruins finished the 2013 preseason with a 6-1-0 record, defeating Montreal, Washington (twice), Detroit and Winnipeg (twice). Three of those six wins were determined in overtime or a shootout. Last season Boston finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and earned a Stanley Cup Final berth for the second time in a three-year span. The Bruins were defeated in the Cup Final by Chicago in six games.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos led all Lighting skaters with seven points (four goals, three assists) to go along with a plus-5 rating this preseason. Newly acquired forward Valtteri Filppula also notched four assists. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski led the Bruins in preseason scoring with seven assists in five games.
Twitter Stat Pack:
The Lightning have won eight of their past 10 season openers, including three straight. Overall the Lightning own an all-time record of 12-6-2 in season openers in their history.
The Lightning’s 25 goals in the 2013 preseason led the division and ranked tied for second in the Eastern Conference (Washington – 29).
Stamkos netted a goal in each of his first two games against the Bruins last season and finished the season series with three points.
Captain Martin St. Louis has tallied 34 career points (15 goals, 18 assists) against the Bruins.
Tampa Bay outscored the Bruins during the first period last season, 3-2.
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