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Lightning (37-19-7, 81 Points) at Bruins (37-19-7, 81 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-3-2); Boston (7-3-0)
Season Series: Tampa Bay has taken one of the first three meetings on the season, as it looks to conclude the season series by evening things up at two games apiece. The Lightning’s lone win came on Nov. 22 at home, while Boston has won the last two, including one in each team’s home arena.
The Big Story: The teams are neck and neck in the Eastern Conference standings, as both the Lightning and Bruins come into tonight matching each other’s 81-point total. Wednesday’s loss at New Jersey set Tampa Bay back one spot behind Boston into third in the Eastern Conference standings. The Lightning have a chance to climb back into the number two spot and jump the Bruins with a win tonight, but they’ll have to snap an opposing win streak of six games or more for the third time in seven days, as the Bruins enter the contest with six straight victories.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will wrap up a three-game road swing tonight in Boston and also conclude the latter half of its first back-to-back set since late January. The Lightning fell to the Devils last night 2-1, in the team’s third consecutive game determined by that same score. Dominic Moore opened scoring in the second period and Dwayne Roloson made 25 saves and held onto a one-goal lead for nearly the first 40 minutes, but goals by New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Henrik Tallinder late in the game gave the Devils their ninth win in their last 10 games.
BRUINS – Boston embarks on a two-game home stand tonight that was long awaited, having just played each of its last six games all on the road. The time away from home seemed to have no effect on the Bruins, as they come into tonight on a six-game win streak, allowing no more than two goals in each of those games all but once. After scoring at least three goals in each of the first five contests of the streak, Boston mustered just one on Tuesday against Ottawa, but it was enough. Nathan Horton’s tally at 1:43 of the third period gave goaltender Tuukka Rask just the right amount of cushion to preserve the shutout in a 1-0 victory and lead Boston to its first perfect six-game road trip since Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito led the team to its second Stanley Cup title in three years during the 1970s.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis had the NHL’s longest active point streak snapped last night at nine games, but nevertheless the Lightning win has notched nine goals and four assists in his last 10 games. Vincent Lecavalier has seven goals, including six on the power play, in his last 10 as well for the Lightning. Boston has been getting a lot of production lately from Nathan Horton, who has three goals in his last three games, and Adam McQuaid who is riding a two-game assist streak. Milan Lucic also has four goals and eight points in his last six games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (mid body, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Mike Lundin (mid body, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve) and Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day). BRUINS – Andrew Ference (lower body, day-to-day) and Marc Savard (concussion, out for season).
Notable Quotable: “You can’t get chemistry until you accomplish things. You can just be a bunch of guys that likes to be together, but real chemistry is battling together and accomplishing things together, going through adversity together and getting through it together and finding ways together and getting the feeling that the guy beside you is going be there for you when you are in trouble, fight when it’s time to fight and he’s not going to fly away or freeze. And we’ve got that.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on the unity of the Lightning that has made them so successful this season
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