The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off a four-game road trip to the north Monday night when they face-off against the Boston Bruins at the T D Banknorth Garden.
The Lightning, which have been producing strong efforts but getting scant result, face the Bruins for the second time in four nights. Previously, at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay (6-12-8) dropped a close decision to the Bruins, 3-1, with one of the Boston goals coming on an empty net after Lightning goaltender Mike Smith had been pulled for an extra attacker.
In that game, the Bolts jumped out to an early lead when Martin St. Louis scored just 1:21 into the contest. St. Louis has been hitting the score sheet with regularity, posting eight points in his last eight games. He trails Vincent Lecavalier, the team point leader with 23, by two points. Lecavalier also leads the Lightning in goals scored with 10.
The Bruins return home from a brief two-game Florida road trip where they got both wins to run their consecutive game-winning streak to four. The high-scoring Bruins (18-4-4) have gone 16-2-1 of late to claim the best record in the NHL East.
Forward Phil Kessel has been outstanding for Boston, recording at least one point in his last 11 games, the NHL’s longest active point streak. He has also scored at least one goal in five straight games, and his total for the season now stands at 16, good enough for third place in that category among all NHL players. In their previous meeting, Kessel had two goals against the Lightning.
Boston netminder Tim Thomas leads the NHL with a 1.83 goals-against average.
The four game road trip will conclude December 13th in Ottawa, after which the Lightning will return home to host the Colorado Avalanche on December 18th.