A snowstorm postponed the first meeting between Boston and Tampa Bay, and now a handful of Bruins are feeling a bit under the weather.
Hoping to have a full squad Thursday night, Boston looks to end a four-game road losing streak to the Lightning, who have seemed to rediscover their scoring touch.
The Bruins (9-2-2) halted a two-game skid with Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Winnipeg, but Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Anton Khudobin, Adam McQuaid, and Daniel Paille all were held out of Tuesday’s practice because of flu-like symptoms.
All were able to participate in Wednesday’s session in Tampa, though, and coach Claude Julien is hoping they’ll be healthy enough to play Thursday.
“It was nice to have a full team,” Julien told the team’s official website. “Let’s knock on wood that nothing else happens, but the guys are all feeling much better, so let’s just hope that’s where it ends.”
Boston is 5-1-1 away from home and visits Florida and the New York Islanders after this one to conclude a five-game road swing.
“This is an important road trip for us,” Campbell said. “I think these arenas – Tampa Bay and Florida – they’re tough to play in. Obviously, Tampa’s playing really well. We have to be sharp and it was good to get our legs under us and have a good practice.”
If the Bruins are to end their road skid versus the Lightning, they’ll need to shut down one of the league’s most productive offenses. Tampa Bay has scored at least five goals in each of the last four home meetings with Boston, including two during the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.
Vincent Lecavalier has two goals and three assists during a five-game point streak, while Martin St. Louis and former Bruin Benoit Pouliot have a point in each of the last four.
Steven Stamkos has five goals in his last three games versus Boston
“Obviously, their two top lines are probably one of the best in the league,” Paille said. “They play very strong at home, our history here has been pretty tough, too. We know that we need to come out a little bit better than we have in the past.”
The Lightning (8-6-1) lead the NHL with 59 goals, but scored only 12 during a 0-5-1 stretch from Feb. 2-14. They’ve bounced back to win 6-5 at Florida on Saturday before beating Toronto 4-2 on Tuesday despite tying a season low with 19 shots.
Stamkos scored his 10th goal and Pouliot had three assists versus the Maple Leafs.
“We’re battling. That’s the thing that got away from us the six games we lost in a row,” said Pouliot, who had a career-high 32 points for Boston last season. “We come out with wins if we play that way.”
Coach Guy Boucher, though, knows his team will get a tough test from Boston, which has allowed two goals or fewer eight times.
“They don’t really have a lot of flaws,” Boucher said. “They’re smart, well-coached and their physicality is second to none. It’s a big challenge, but we’re looking to get better each and every game.”
Tuukka Rask, 3-0-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average in his last four, could get the start in net for Boston, though he’s just 1-2-0 with a 4.06 GAA in three career starts versus the Lightning.
Possible Tampa Bay starter Anders Lindback has never faced Boston and has a 3.24 GAA over his last three starts.