BRUINS (41-27-13) at LIGHTNING (49-24-8)
TV: NBCSN, SN1, NESN
TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are still playing for a division title and the Boston Bruins are playing with the hopes that their season will not end at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, NESN).
Boston (41-27-13) trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Bruins also trail the Ottawa Senators by two points for the first wild card and each spot is in play Saturday.
The Bruins will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Lightning in any fashion and either the Senators or Penguins lose in regulation. They would also qualify with a win over the Lightning and a Senators regulation loss and a Penguins loss in any fashion.
“We had a chance to control our destiny and now we don’t,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Right now all we can control is our game [Saturday] against Tampa. We can’t worry about anything other than doing our job.”
Boston has made the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons.
“We are going to play with everything and leave it all out there,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “There is so much at stake in these games and these are the games you want to enjoy and do whatever it takes.”
Tampa Bay (49-24-8) can clinch first place in the Atlantic Division with a win against the Bruins and a Montreal Canadiens loss in regulation. The Lightning snapped a 10-game winless streak against the Bruins with a 5-3 win on March 22.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said he expects his teammates to treat this like a big game with the division on the line and the chance to knock out an old nemesis.
“Any team would love to knock this team out of the playoffs because of how dangerous they have proven to be in the postseason,” Stamkos said. “Look at L.A. and look at Boston. No matter where they finish they are a threat if they get in the playoffs because of their experience and the personnel. So if Boston doesn’t make it I think most of the teams in the East will be a little happier.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that eliminating Boston isn’t important to him but continuing to play well and closing out the regular season with a strong performance is.
“We’re sitting at 49 wins right now,” Cooper said. “So it would be really cool to get to 50.”
Here are the projected lineups:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Krejci
Milan Lucic – Ryan Spooner – David Pastrnak
Reilly Smith – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Max Talbot – Chris Kelly – Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara – Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski – Zach Trotman
Scratched: Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell
Injured: Dougie Hamilton (undisclosed), Kevan Miller (right shoulder)
Jonathan Drouin – Steven Stamkos – Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette – Valtteri Filppula – Vladislav Namestnikov
Brenden Morrow – Brian Boyle – J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman – Anton Stralman
Matthew Carle – Luke Witkowski
Mark Barberio – Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Braydon Coburn (foot), Alex Killorn (undisclosed), Andrej Sustr (upper body), Jason Garrison (upper body)
Status Report: The Bruins did not take line rushes during their morning skate Saturday. … Coburn continued to skate in a regular jersey Saturday but isn’t expected to play. …The Bruins reassigned defenseman Joe Morrow to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. …Drouin is questionable with an illness and the Lightning called up forward Jonathan Marchessault from Syracuse of the AHL as a potential replacement.
Who’s Hot: Johnson had two goals and an assist in a 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. … Bergeron scored a goal in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday.