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Bruins aim for sweep in Sunshine State

by Frank Mentesana
BRUINS (29-12-1) at LIGHTNING (17-23-4)


Last 10: Boston 7-3-0; Tampa Bay 3-6-1.

Season series: This is the second of four meetings between these Eastern Conference foes, who square off in the Sunshine State for the first time this season. In the first matchup on Oct. 8 in Boston, Rich Peverley scored two goals and Tim Thomas made 25 saves in a 4-1 triumph for the Bruins -- their first win of the season.

Big Story: With their 3-2 shootout win at Florida on Monday night, the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins still haven't lost two road games in a row all season. The last time they lost consecutive games overall was Dec. 6-8. The B's will continue to be tested though, as they will be playing back-to-back nights and their third game in four days when they square off with Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Whether they are at home or on the road, nothing has gone right for the Lightning in 2012. After a three-game winning streak to close out 2011, the Bolts are still looking for their first win of 2012. They are 0-6-1 in January and have lost seven in a row for the first time since 2008-09.

Team Scope:

Bruins: In the midst of a stretch of six out of seven away from home, the Bruins have lacked a bit of their usual luster over the first two games away from TD Garden. After a 4-2 loss to lowly Carolina on Saturday, Boston was often sluggish against the Panthers on Monday. Florida enjoyed the better of the chances near the end of regulation and had a power play in overtime, but failed to convert. Patrice Bergeron was just the latest Bruin to step up, scoring both regulation goals as well as a shootout goal that extended the tiebreaker. Tuukka Rask made 38 saves through regulation and overtime, then denied three of the Cats' four shootout attempts.

"We still made mistakes we could avoid," Bergeron said. "We found a way to win tonight and that makes for a good effort. We have to carry that over for tomorrow night. It was a total team win and that's what we needed."

Lightning: Trailing Pittsburgh 3-0 early in the third period of Sunday afternoon's home game, the Lightning rattled off three straight goals to create hope for a resounding comeback win. Evgeni Malkin quickly shot down that idea, scoring the first of three consecutive goals 48 seconds after the Bolts tied the game. Malkin's natural hat trick gave the Penguins a 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay, who has dropped into last place in the Eastern Conference with just 38 points.

"Same story," said Ryan Malone, one of the Lightning's three goal-scorers along with Matt Gilroy and Teddy Purcell. "The game starts at 1, so we have to be ready, and we weren't ready. I don’t know what to say."

In each of their last four games, the Lightning have trailed 2-0 before the game was 11 minutes old.

"It's tough because it becomes something heavier," coach Guy Boucher said, referring to the team's recent slow starts. "If it's something that occurs once every blue moon, it's a lot easier to manage, but it's happened quite a bit. You've got to dig deep to get rid of the negative side of starting from behind. It's emotionally draining, yes, but we fight it and always fight to come back and give ourselves a chance and we did that again tonight."

Who's Hot: While David Krejci's League-best 11-game point streak was snapped Monday, he did notch the shootout winner for Boston. … Despite losing seven in a row, the Lightning's "Big-Three" have remained active. Steven Stamkos, the League's leading goal-scorer with 30, has 2 goals and 3 assists during a four-game point-streak. Vincent Lecavalier has points in six of his last seven with 9 points in that span. Martin St. Louis has gone 11 games without a goal, but has 13 assists during that time.

Injury Report: The Bruins will be without Brad Marchand, who will serve the final game of his five-game suspension. Peverley missed Monday's game after returning to Boston for a personal matter. He's unlikely to return against Tampa Bay. … Lightning forward Dana Tyrell left Sunday's game with a lower-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day and will not play against the Bruins. Forward J.T. Wyman (lacerated right pinky finger) and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body) are questionable, while Adam Hall (forearm), Victor Hedman (concussion), Ryan Shannon (lower body) and Mattias Ohlund (arthroscopic right knee surgery) are all on IR.

Stat Pack: Tampa Bay has the second-worst goal differential in the League (minus-35), while Boston has the best, by far (plus-70).

Puck Drop: After Malkin scored an empty-netter with 56 seconds left in the game to seal his hat trick and the win for Pittsburgh, Guy Boucher called timeout.

"I'm thinking, 'It's not over'" Boucher said. "I am not one of those guys that want to be part of a fellowship of the miserable. I'm not quitting. There are guys that are down and they have trouble keeping going, but it's certainly not going to be the captain of the ship because I'm going to get up tomorrow and work."
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