Bruins Game 64 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Winslow Townson/AP)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Even though the seven-game winning streak was snapped last Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins bounced right back on Tuesday night with a massive 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks – a rematch from the 6-5 win over San Jose last week in California. With the win, the Bruins improve to 10-0-4 in their last fourteen games and hold a one-point lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division with eighty-three points on the season.

At the same time, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been a dominate force as well, earning points in their last fourteen as well and are riding a ten-game winning streak, the longest in franchise history. The Lightning have been far-and-away the best team in the NHL this season and have no indications of slowing down anytime soon. Tampa Bay has an incredible 49-11-4 record for 102 points and hold an outstanding thirteen-point lead on the second place team in the league’s overall standings (Calgary at 89pts).

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 20-8-5 2.40 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 2-1 (SO) loss to STL

TBL: Louis Domingue (Likely) 19-4-0 2.86 GAA .908 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 5-2 win vs PHI

Who’s Hot

Nikita Kucherov is the best point-producing player in the National Hockey League this season – no question. The 25-year-old forward has 30-74-104 numbers in only sixty-four games this season and is not slowing down by any means. Kucherov has 8-15-23 totals in his last nine games and recently scored five points in a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets back on February 18th.

Tuukka Rask has been nothing short of stellar in between the pipes for the Bruins as of late, riding high on a fifteen-game personal point streak, extending that on Saturday win the point against the Blues. Rask has the seventh-best goals-against-average in the league at 2.40 and the tenth-best save percentage at .920.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins

PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Louis Domingue is the backup goaltender for the Lightning and he is having insane numbers for that position. The St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada native has won the last eleven games that he has started in for Tampa, improving his overall record to a remarkable 19-4-0 record. Domingue has taken the league by storm and like I said, is only getting backup goaltender minutes. His play has made it easy on Head Coach Jon Cooper to decide on who starts because neither man seems to be able to go cold this season.

Brad Marchand is coming into tonight’s game after a three-point outing against the Sharks, a game where he tied Bruins legend Rick Middleton for most shorthanded goals in a single career with twenty-five. Marchand has been a key piece to the Bruins offence for many years now, but even more so with the absence of David Pastrnak from the forward core. With 25-49-74 numbers, Marchand leads the team in points and is second in goals.

Who’s Not

Joakim Nordstrom will be back in the lineup, even though many Bruins feel like he should not be and they make a good case. The free-agent signing in the past 2018 offseason, Nordstrom only has five goals and two assists in fifty-one games for the Black N’ Gold while not scoring a point in his last eighteen games now. For Boston, it may be smarter to place Peter Cehlarik in his position on the third-line, who has six points in only fourteen games.

Alex Killorn has been a solid depth scorer for the Lightning this year, putting up 13-18-31 numbers in the 64 games played this season but the 29-year-old has zero points in his last three games and was a minus one rating in yesterday’s win over the New York Rangers. To go with that, Killorn only has a single point in the last six games that he has skated in.

David Backes has seen some time with the struggling Nordstrom and more recently, newly-acquired Charlie Coyle, but the veteran forward only has one point in his last twelve games and if he wants to continue getting top-nine minutes on this team, then he needs to contribute more points on the depth charts than his fourteen points (five goals, nine assists), in 51 games.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • D Charlie McAvoy will be playing in his 100th career NHL regular season game
  • F Patrice Bergeron is two points away (791) from tying Wayne Cashman (793) for 6th most points in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one even-strength goal away (203) from passing Peter McNab (203) for sole possession of 8th most even-strength goals in Bruins history
  • D Zdeno Chara is one goal away (199) from 200 career NHL goals
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (25) from passing Rick Middleton (25) for sole possession of most SHG in Bruins history

Tampa Bay Lightning:

  • F Steven Stamkos is two goals away (381) from tying Vincent Lecavalier (383) for most goals in Lightning history
  • F Ondrej Palat is one assist away (187) from passing Dan Boyle (187) for sole possession of 9th most assists in Lightning history
  • F Tyler Johnson is one point away (300) from passing Brian Bradley (300) for sole possession of 8th most points in Lightning history

Bruins vs Lightning Outlook

The Bruins and Lightning only met once so far this season, a 3-2 loss back in December. To end off the 2018-19 season, however, the two top teams in the Eastern Conference will play each other three more times including tonight’s contest in Boston. There is a chance that the two will once again meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as both teams faced each other last year, with Tampa winning in only five games.

This is the first time in NHL history that two teams on a 14-game winning streak will meet each other in a game. Will they both extend to fifteen? Or will one end the other’s streak tonight?

Finally, the Bruins meet their match on the specialty teams. The Bruins have the second-best power-play in the NHL (26.4%), behind only the Lightning who have a 29.7% success rate while on the man-advantage. Tampa also has the number one penalty-kill in the league, killing off 86.1% of their penalties against successfully while Boston (80.7%) is twelfth in the NHL.

Noel Acciari took a puck to the face, but Cassidy expects him in the Bruins lineup tonight. Other than Rask getting the start in net, the lineup remains the same as Tuesday’s win over the Sharks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm EST at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Here are the expected lines for the game.

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