Last 10: Tampa Bay (3-6-1); Boston (5-3-2)
Season Series: This game marks the halfway point in the season series, with the two clubs meeting twice more after tonight on Feb. 11 at Tampa Bay and Mar. 25 at Boston. The Lightning traveled to the TD Garden earlier this month on Dec. 2 and fell to the Bruins, who make their first appearance inside the St. Pete Times Forum this season.
The Big Story: Seven out of the last 10 matches between the two clubs have gone to either overtime or a shootout, including three out of the last four which have been decided by the latter. Both the Lightning and Bruins are among the NHL leaders in overtime games this season, playing in 12 and 13, respectively.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in its third game of its current five-game home set, having won three of the last four. In those victories, the Lightning have scored 14 goals while their opponents have mustered eight. The latest came on Saturday with a 4-3 win against the Thrashers, in which Vincent Lecavalier tied a season-high with three points and recorded a plus-3 rating while teammate Mike Lundin, who was recalled from AHL Norfolk earlier in the day, scored his first career NHL goal. Antero Niittymaki, who posted a 14-0-0 career mark against Atlanta, was given the day off for the birth of his second child and yielded goaltending duties to Mike Smith who made 24 of 27 stops and inched closer to his 50th career victory in net. He is two away. Mattias Ohlund, along with Lundin, was the latest Bolts defenseman to chip in offensively. The Swedish veteran recorded an assist in the team’s last game, following on the heels of Kurtis Foster who has tallied four helpers in as many contests and leads Tampa Bay defensemen with 12 points.
BRUINS – Boston comes in to finish a two-game back-to-back road series within the state of Florida. Last night, the Bruins beat the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise for the team’s third consecutive win. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has helped the team to the league’s fifth-best mark in average goals-against per game at 2.35, but the defense in front of him is just as valuable, especially in short handed situations. Boston enters tonight with the NHL’s top penalty killing unit who posts an 87.8 percent success rate this season. With Boston playing for the second time in as many nights, it’s possible goalie Tuukka Rask may start in place of Thomas. Rask leads the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and is 6-1-1 in his last eight starts.
- Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier have tallied six assists and seven total points in their last four games and Kurtis Foster has four assists in the same number. Steve Downie has recorded three points in his last two.
- Both Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara have each totaled four points in half as many contests, including three assists apiece, and Patrice Begeron has recorded three points in one less game.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Matt Walker (lower body, IR, day-to-day), Jeff Halpern (lower body, IR, out two weeks) and Todd Fedoruk (lower body, IR, out two weeks). BRUINS – Milan Lucic (ankle sprain, IR), Mark Stuart (broken sternum, IR).
Quotable: “You try to learn from your past experiences. When it happens too often, you’ve got to do something to change it. The players figured they’ve got to do something about it.” – Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet