Game #63: Boston Bruins (40-17-5) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (34-24-5)
Location: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa Bay
Time: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
The Boston Bruins will pay a visit to the sunshine state on Saturday evening to play the fourth and final meeting of the season against their Atlantic Division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins edged the Lightning in each of the previous three games against them this year. In those games, the black-and-gold blanked the Bolts twice, heavily outscoring them 11-1.
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask has been the difference-maker in the prior games between these two clubs. Rask has two shutouts, a .988 save percentage and a miniscule o.33 goals against average. Rask is hot and fresh off a blanking of the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
These teams have not played since Nov. 11. In that tilt Tampa Bay lost Steven Stamkos to a broken leg. Stamkos just recently returned to action on Thursday. Arguably the most dynamic scorer in the NHL, Stamkos, played well in his return. He was active in all three zones and looked to be the best player on the ice in their game against Buffalo.
Callahan had four shots and four hits in his Lightning debut.
Tampa Bay is 3-7 in their last ten, while the Bruins are 6-2-2. The Bolts trail Boston by 12 points in the Atlantic Division standings, but they are just four points behind the second place Montreal Canadiens. Their recent play is not indicative of how talented of a team they are. Boston will be in for a battle as points are at a premium in the divisional race.
Saturday will kick-off a three game road trip for the Bruins. Newly acquired Andrej Mazsaros and Corey Potter were not in the lineup on Thursday, though it’s a safe bet one of them dresses in this game. Bruins coach Claude Julien understands the importance of getting his newcomers aclimated with his system through game experience.
Gregory Campbell will look help his team extend their three-game winning streak by extending a streak of his own. Boston’s fourth liner has four goals in his last four games. If Campbell’s scoring, the Bruins are winning. They’re at their best when Julien rolls four lines.