Bolts hope to end slump vs. NE leading Bruins

Bolts hope to end slump vs. NE leading Bruins

Published Jan. 17, 2012 9:00 a.m. ET

Tune into Sun Sports at 7 p.m. to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Boston Bruins. NHL Lightning territory.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took the Boston Bruins to seven games in last season's Eastern Conference finals before Boston claimed its first Stanley Cup since 1972.

The Bruins haven't received much resistance from the Lightning - or many others, for that matter - this season.

Boston visits last-place Tampa Bay on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams seemingly headed in opposite directions.

Since starting the season 3-7-0, the Northeast Division-leading Bruins (29-12-1) have gone 26-5-1 while outscoring opponents 128-57 in that span.

They shook off Saturday's 4-2 loss to Carolina to beat Southeast-leading Florida 3-2 in a shootout Monday, as Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Krejci added the winner in the tiebreaker.

The Bruins allowed four breakaways, though three were stopped by Tuukka Rask, who made 38 saves.

"...When things are tough you have to find ways to win and I think our guys did a good enough job to battle and found a way to win and you take the wins for what they're worth," coach Claude Julien said.

Krejci scored Oct. 8 when Boston beat Tampa Bay 4-1, marking its fourth straight regular-season victory in the series.

The Lightning (17-23-4) haven't been able to recapture the form that brought them to within a victory of the Stanley Cup finals last season and are tied with the New York Islanders for fewest points in the conference.

Tampa lost for the seventh straight time Sunday, falling 6-3 to Pittsburgh. It has been outscored 33-17 during its skid while going 2 for 20 on the power play.

The Lightning, outscored 54-30 in the first period this season, haven't dropped eight in a row since ending the 2008-09 season with a nine-game slide.

"Same story," said Ryan Malone, who scored in the third period. "The game starts at 1, so we have to be ready, and we weren't ready. I don't know what to say."

Frustration boiled over when normally level-headed captain Vincent Lecavalier, who had two assists, received two roughing minors and a 10-minute game misconduct in the third period when he took exception to a hit from Evgeni Malkin.

Lecavalier felt Malkin targeted his knees on an earlier play and challenged Malkin to a fight as retaliation, though coach Guy Boucher was proud to see some emotion from his underachieving team.

"In those situations, he's a captain and he wants to show that we're not going to take everything and just be little poodles and wait for things to happen," Boucher said. "So, for me, there's absolutely no blame on his part there. That was his way of showing that we're not going to take it."

Steven Stamkos had an assist and has been one of the few bright spots, leading the league with 30 goals. However, he has one goal and three assists in his last six games including the postseason versus Boston.

Martin St. Louis scored in the first meeting with the Bruins, but hasn't scored in his last 11 games.

Tim Thomas made 25 saves for Boston in that contest and is likely to be in net after receiving the night off Monday. Last season's Vezina Trophy winner has a 1.99 goals-against average this season, though he's only 2-3-0 with a 2.63 GAA in his last five starts.

Rich Peverley, who scored twice in the first meeting with the Lightning, will miss the next two games while attending to a personal matter. He's expected to return Thursday against New Jersey.