TAMPA - The Bruins will cap off their back-to-back on Thursday night as they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning in the teams' second of four meetings this season. Boston is aiming to build on a strong effort in a 3-2 loss to Washington on Wednesday as it looks to snap a four-game losing skid.
"Thought we had a pretty solid effort there last game," said Jake DeBrusk. "Obviously we wanted to play a full 60 with our start leading the way. I thought we did for the most part what we wanted to do, it was just a matter of a couple little detail things here and there that ultimately got us in the end. I think the process is coming in the right direction."
The Bruins began the road trip with a 15-point lead in the Atlantic Division, an advantage that has dwindled to 10 - over Buffalo and Montreal - during their recent swoon. Nevertheless, they still hold a significant cushion, though Boston does not believe that has contributed to any of their urgency issues of late.
"I don't know if the players necessarily look at it as much as the coaches do," said Chris Wagner. "You don't want to be like, 'Well, we lost, so we can breathe easy.' It's more about the process and getting our game to where we want it to be. It's also December.
"Two points do count every game, they're always big, but you're not really standing watching right now as a player. We're just trying to win games and see how it shakes out."
Here's everything else you need to know for Thursday's matchup against Tampa (7 p.m. ET on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub:
The Lightning, last season's Presidents' Trophy winners, have gotten off to a slower start, as they sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Division with 33 points, three back of Montreal and Buffalo for a playoff spot.
Despite sitting out of the postseason picture, Tampa still remains a more than formidable foe, particularly with a strong offensive attack, which ranks second in the NHL at 3.59 goals per game. The Bolts' power play also ranks second at 28.4%.
"They're fast, they move the puck well, one of the more skilled teams in the league," said Wagner. "Maybe a bigger D corps [than Washington], bigger goalie too, but it's pretty much the same game plan. Try to limit their speed through the neutral zone, get pucks behind them and go to work."
Nikita Kucherov paces Tampa with 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 28 games, while Steven Stamkos leads the way with 11 goals (on top of 16 assists). Victor Hedman (27 points), Alex Killorn (24), Brayden Point (21), Kevin Shattenkirk (22), and Anthony Cirelli (21) have also cross the 20-point plateau.
Tampa won the first meeting between the teams this season, a 4-3 shootout victory in Boston on Oct. 17. The Lightning have won three in a row and five of six overall against the Bruins.
Wait, There's More
- There could be one change on the back end as John Moore is likely to swap in for Connor Clifton for the second end of the back-to-back.
- Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal.
- Cassidy said that Karson Kuhlman (tibia fracture), Zach Senyshyn (lower body), and Anton Blidh (shoulder) have all resumed skating. Kevan Miller, who had a setback in his recovery from a knee injury, has not returned to the ice.
Thursday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Brett Ritchie
Anders Bjork - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk