Lightning-Bruins Preview

Throughout their history, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rarely
picked up points in Boston.

The last time they visited, they didn’t even have a chance.

After the Lightning witnessed a New England blizzard last month,
they expect to get a game in – and hope to snap a disheartening
three-game losing streak – when they face the red-hot Bruins on
Saturday.

Including the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, Tampa Bay has
dropped five straight in Boston to remain stuck on five wins in 41
all-time games there.

The Lightning arrived for their road matchup with the Bruins on
Feb. 9, but that game was postponed to April 25 due to a massive
storm that dumped as much as three feet of snow on parts of
Massachusetts.

That’s one reason Boston (13-2-2) has played fewer games than
any other NHL team, but the Bruins are set to begin a busy March
that includes 17 games. They’re rolling into the month on a
five-game winning streak after Patrice Bergeron’s overtime goal
secured a 2-1 win over Ottawa on Thursday.

The team didn’t seem thrilled with its play even though it had a
season-high 46 shots.

“We know we’re a better team, we know we can play better,” coach
Claude Julien told the Bruins’ official website. “I’m certainly not
criticizing our team for how they played because they still battled
through. We didn’t have our legs, so it’s not because they didn’t
want to, but certainly Saturday’s game I’m looking for our team to
be better and hopefully we’ll have gotten into our groove at
home.”

The Bruins are 5-1-1 at home despite going 0 for 26 on the power
play.

Their current overall run includes last Thursday’s 4-2 win at
Tampa Bay. Boston didn’t have one power play in that contest, but
its league-best penalty kill snuffed out three Lightning
opportunities and Nathan Horton scored twice at even strength.

“That’s what we’ve got to aim for, beat that kind of team,”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said that night.

Tampa Bay (9-10-1) is desperate for a win against anybody
following three consecutive regulation defeats. Multiple Lightning
players called Thursday’s 4-1 road loss to the New York Rangers
“embarrassing” after the team was outshot 35-11 in the first two
periods.

“I don’t really know what to say,” said star forward Steven
Stamkos, who had a six-game goal streak snapped. “Guys aren’t
competing hard enough, and they wanted it more than us.

“It’s getting to a point where it’s embarrassing. We talk about
work ethic, but it’s not there right now.”

The Lightning are 3-9-1 since their promising 6-1-0 start, and
they’re 3-6-0 on the road following the first stop on a challenging
trip that continues in Pittsburgh and New Jersey next week.

They may catch somewhat of a break Saturday if the Bruins opt to
start Anton Khudobin in net. Tuukka Rask has played throughout
Boston’s win streak, posting a 1.38 goals-against average, but he
could get a rest with an eye toward Sunday night’s matchup with
archrival Montreal.

Khudobin has made eight NHL starts and has never played in a
home game for the Bruins.

Goaltending continues to be a problem for the Lightning. Anders
Lindback gave up four goals on 26 shots against Boston last week
and has not played since being pulled after one period of Sunday’s
5-3 loss at Pittsburgh.

His 3.27 GAA ranks among the worst in the NHL, but Mathieu Garon
hasn’t been any better at 3.31 while losing five of his last six
starts.