The Tampa Bay Lightning return home from a long three-game road swing but the welcoming committee waiting for them is a formidable one, as the streaking Boston Bruins come to call at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night.
The Lightning have done everything but win of late, putting together a hard-nosed brand of hockey which has pleased interim coach Rick Tocchet. On Tuesday night in Philadelphia, they battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, but eventually fell short in the overtime period.
Tampa Bay (6-10-8) is led by Vincent Lecavalier; his 10 goals on the season is tops on the club and he is the point leader with 20. Martin St. Louis trails his linemate by only two points. The team currently sits in fourth place in the Southeast Division standings, trailing the Florida Panthers by three points.
The Bruins arrive in Tampa as the hottest club in the NHL. They are currently deadlocked at the top of the Eastern Conference standings and their 16-4-4 record reflects an 11-1-1 stretch for the month of November, during which they outscored their opponents 51-24. They have recorded 80 goals this season, which has them tied for the top in that category in the Eastern Division and their team goaltenders, led by Tim Thomas, are sporting a league-leading 2.13 goals-against average. This is the first game in a two-game road trip for Boston, who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday at home.
Thursday’s contest marks the first of two games between these two clubs in a five day span. Tampa Bay and Boston will hook up again on Monday in Boston.