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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Lightning

Boston will be attempting to break a three-game losing skid

by Chris Weyant @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - The Bruins were unable to make a move to further solidify their playoff hopes on Tuesday, falling, 3-2, to the Ottawa Senators in a rugged affair to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Despite a solid effort, it was the Bruins' third consecutive loss.

Boston remains in the third spot in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but will be eager to take points away from Thursday's matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit five points back of the Bruins with a game in hand.

The Bruins are set to square off against the Lightning for the fourth of five times this season. Boston has won all three matchups by a combined score of 12-7.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Here is what you need to know:

Remaining Grounded

The Bruins (38-29-6, 82 points) may have dropped two crucial matchups against division rivals Toronto and Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday, but no one is questioning the effort of the Black and Gold.

A late power play goal from Toronto and a lack of finish on Tuesday against Ottawa were the chief reasons the B's were unable to come away with any points from the back-to-back set.

Wednesday is an off day for a team that could use a day away from the rink given the nail biting nature of their last two contests. Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy did not want the team to get down on their efforts, knowing losses are inevitable in such a competitive league.

"I think it's just ebbs and flows over the course of the year where you run into hot goaltending and you have to stay with it and that's when you have to keep the puck out of your net," said Cassidy, who knows the team will need to depend on team defense at times in order to win games.

There was no shortage of chances for the Bruins, who outshot Ottawa, 36-22, and generated a laundry list of scoring looks, only to be thwarted by Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

Video: Krug discusses 3-2 loss to Ottawa

"He made some big saves for them, no question about that, some key moments in the game, that's a part of the game," said Zdeno Chara. "You're going to run into the goalies that are making big saves. We've just got to keep going and keep trying."

"You don't want to lose three in a row, but it's done with," added Patrice Bergeron. "You have to, obviously, look towards Tampa and bounce right back."

Bergeron is echoing the sentiment of the entire team, which is hungry for their first appearance in the postseason in three years. The urgency and compete level is there, but they know the battle is far from over.

"I think at this point of the season, there's no time to kind of feel sorry for ourselves," said Tuukka Rask. "We just go out there and make something happen and the results will happen."

Opposing View: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning (34-29-9, 77 points) are coming off a tough 5-3 loss at home against Arizona on Tuesday night, where they were unable to gain ground on their Eastern Conference competition.

When considering their string of horrible luck with injuries to key offensive cogs Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Ryan Callahan, their presence in the playoff picture is impressive.

With the absence of the three offensive weapons, Tampa was in desperate need of other players to step up. No one has done so more than Nikita Kucherov, who has 73 points (34 goals and 39 assists) in 65 games, and is a name being tossed around among the Hart Trophy conversation.

Victor Hedman has offered a huge jolt of offense with 60 points (15 goals and 45 assists) in 69 games. The 6-foot-6 defenseman has developed into one of the game's elite blueliners since being drafted second overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

The Lightning parted with goaltender Ben Bishop and defenseman Marc Streit at the Trade Deadline. Despite the subtractions, the team has remained competitive and in striking distance of the Bruins, Islanders, and Maple Leafs for a postseason slot.

Goaltender Peter Budaj came to the Bolts in the Ben Bishop trade with the Los Angeles Kings. Budaj was enjoying his best season of his career in Los Angeles, and still offers Tampa a solid option in net. Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has started seven of 11 games since the Bishop-Budaj swap, seems to be head coach Jon Cooper's No. 1 netminder.

Vasilevskiy is 17-16-6 in 42 games this season, posting a 2.68 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.

Tampa Bay ranks 18th in the NHL in goals for (2.68 goals per game) and 17th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.76 goals per game).

Wait, There's More

  • The Bruins have nine games remaining in the regular season, seven of which are on home ice.
  • Brad Marchand's five-game point streak came to an end on Tuesday night. The winger still remains third in the league in points (80) and second in goals (37).
  • Wednesday will mark the 93rd all-time meeting between the Bruins and the Lightning. The Bruins hold a 59-23-9-1 record against Tampa Bay.
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