Preview: Lightning conclude four-game road trip in Boston
TV: NBC Sports
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
BOSTON — Like all coaches, Jon Cooper wishes his Tampa Bay Lightning would breeze through the season without any bumps in the road.
Until recently, that’s the way things were going for Cooper. But before his team won at Buffalo on Tuesday night, Cooper and his players were dealing with three losses in four games.
“Do you want adversity? Probably not,” Cooper said at Tuesday’s morning skate. “But is it a bad thing? Probably not either. You have to learn from these.
“So many things went right for us that some things came a little bit easy for us. I believe we earned those breaks, but it might be a little time now where things aren’t coming easy for us to reset and figure out why we got those breaks and get back to that.”
The Lightning, who visit the Boston Bruins to end a four-game road trip Wednesday night, blanked the woeful Sabres 2-0 on Tuesday night as Andrei Vasilevskiy pitched his second shutout of the season.
The win moved Tampa Bay (17-5-2) back into the top spot in the overall NHL standings.
“I wouldn’t say it’s our best game but we did enough,” Tyler Johnson said. “It was kind of a weird one with the flow and everything but our team did enough to win. We had some chances, Vasi played well, I thought we played pretty good defensively as well.
“It was just kind of an all-around game but I don’t think it’s going to be one that we look back on later in the year and be like yeah we played a heck of a game.”
Vasilevskiy, who made 34 saves Tuesday, improved to 16-3-1 on the season, while backup Peter Budaj is 1-2-1. Budaj has had success against the Bruins, going 6-4-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .922 save percentage against them.
Vasilevskiy is 0-1-1 against Boston.
The Bruins (10-8-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped with a home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night. Backup Anton Khudobin was in goal for the wins and is 7-0-2 this season — 12-0-2 since Bruce Cassidy took over as the team’s coach — and Tuukka Rask was a hard-luck loser in the loss. He played well but fell to 3-8-2 on the season.
Cassidy said Tuesday he would wait until Wednesday morning to name his starter for the Lightning. The money seemed to be on Rask, who is still the starter in the eyes of the coach. Clearly.
“Tuukka’s our number one,” Cassidy told the media Tuesday. “Anton is our backup. Our backup’s played really well. He’s pushing our number one, and we wanted that. And hopefully our number one gets his game up here where they’re both playing at the top of their game.”
Rask is 13-6-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average lifetime against the Lightning, while Khudobin is 2-1, 2.22, .913.
The Bruins’ continuing injury saga continues. They lost Peter Cehlarik for at least a month with a lower-body injury and David Krejci (back) and Jake DeBrusk (upper body) have been ruled out of Wednesday’s game.
Meanwhile, Brad Marchand, who has missed six games with what is believed to be a concussion, and David Backes, ahead of schedule after colon surgery Nov. 2, were both getting closer. Both will be game-time decisions Wednesday.
“I felt good today — felt good the last few days. I guess we’ll see,” said Marchand, a major Bruin sparkplug.
The Bruins went 4-1 against the Lightning last year with the teams splitting two games at TD Garden, where the Lightning haven’t had tremendous success.
The Bruins are 15-4-0 against Tampa Bay there the last seven seasons.