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Bruins chase season sweep of Lightning

by Brian Hunter

BRUINS (40-17-5) at LIGHTNING (34-24-5)


Last 10: Boston 6-2-2; Tampa Bay 3-7-0

Season series: This is the final game between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only are the Bruins going for the sweep, they've allowed one goal in three games to the Lightning, by Valtteri Filppula in the first meeting Oct. 3. Goalie Tuukka Rask has an 0.33 goals-against average and .988 save percentage with two shutouts. The Bruins have scored 11 goals, led by Patrice Bergeron's three.

Big story: The first three games these Atlantic Division rivals played came within the first seven weeks of the season. In the most recent, Steven Stamkos of the Lightning suffered a broken right leg that kept him out nearly four months. He returned Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, but Tampa Bay continued to scuffle in a 3-1 loss.

Team Scope:

Bruins: It probably won't make Tampa Bay feel much better, but Rask isn't just fond of putting up zeroes against the Lightning. In stopping all 16 shots by the Washington Capitals on Thursday, the Boston goalie recorded his NHL-best sixth shutout of the season and the 22nd of his career.

Defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter, acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline, weren't in the lineup for the 3-0 win against the Capitals, but they were at practice Friday. As a three-game road trip starts there's a good chance of them seeing game action, if not Saturday then either against the Florida Panthers or Montreal Canadiens.

"We're not going to let those guys just sit and not find out what they can give us before we get to the playoffs," coach Claude Julien said.

Lightning: Now in fourth place, 12 points behind Boston, the focus for Tampa Bay has started to shift from a possible run at the Atlantic title to solidifying a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning are four points clear of the ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference.

Opening a six-game homestand against the last-place Sabres, there were some bright spots despite the result. Stamkos took five shots and led all forwards with 21:03 of ice time in his first game back, and forward Ryan Callahan, acquired from the New York Rangers at the NHL Trade Deadline in a deal for Martin St. Louis, finished with four shots and four hits in his Lightning debut.

"I thought he played outstanding," coach Jon Cooper said of Stamkos. "If that's the worst game he plays for us, things are going to look really good because I thought he was the most dangerous player on the ice."

Who's hot: Bruins forward Gregory Campbell has four goals in as many games after scoring three in his first 58 games. … Lightning forward Tyler Johnson has a goal in consecutive games.

Injury report: Boston has shut down defenseman Adam McQuaid (strained quad) for the next several weeks after he had a setback in his recovery. … Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas (lower body) will miss a third straight game but is making progress, according to Cooper.

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