BRUINS (33-27-12) at LIGHTNING (29-32-12)
: Boston 5-4-1; Tampa Bay 3-6-1.
Season series --
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the teams. The Bruins have the lead in the series with a 4-1 victory on Dec. 2 and a 5-4 win on Feb. 11. Boston had a 5-0 lead at the beginning of the second period in the Feb. 11 matchup and almost saw the game slip away as Tampa Bay responded with two goals each from Steve Downie
and Martin St. Louis
. The Lightning took a 2-1 win on Dec. 28.
Big story --
The playoff picture was starting to look grim for the B's a week ago when they fell to the Penguins in a 3-0 loss. But holding strong in eighth place, the Beantown squad rebounded with two straight wins -- 4-0 against the ninth- place Thrashers and a 2-1 victory over the 10th-place Rangers.
The Bolts halted a five-game losing streak with their 3-2 overtime win over Carolina on Tuesday. St. Louis scored in regulation and then netted the winner just 0:29 into the extra session. The left winger undressed the defense and even made a quick pass to himself to seal the deal (watch the goal
). Downie tied the game mid-third on the power play, while goaltender Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves.
"You look at the standings, sometimes you get discouraged," said St. Louis, whose team sits in 12th place, eight points behind Boston. "You can't look at the standings. Play the game and try to get a win."
Defeating the Thrashers on Tuesday, who were just one point shy of the Bruins prior to the win, should give the B's a huge boost in confidence. Not only did they grab a win and the two points, but they did so in convincing fashion with a 4-0 shutout. David Krejci
and Milan Lucic
had a goal and an assist each, while Miroslav Satan and Steve Begin also scored. It was Boston goalie Tuukka Rask
's fourth shutout of the season and his second against Atlanta. Rask made 27 saves, including a tremendous stop in the second period during a Thrashers' power play.
"We're not out of the woods yet. We have to keep plugging," said coach Claude Julien. "But it was a very important win for us."
Who's hot --
St. Louis has four points in his last four games, Downie has three goals in his last four, and Vincent Lecavalier
is riding a four-game pointy streak. ... For the Bruins, Satan has goals in each of his last two games, Lucic has three points in his last two and Krejci has nine points in his last seven games.
Injury report --
Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund
is out with a sprained left ankle, while left wing Ryan Malone
(arthroscopic left knee surgery/upper body) is out for at least another week. ... Boston center Vladimir Sobotka is doubtful for Thursday with a head injury and Marc Savard
is expected to miss to rest of the season with a concussion.
Stat pack --
With Downie's goal on Tuesday, he became one of five players in NHL history to have at least 20 goals and 200 penalty minutes in the same season. Theo Fleury was the last to do so with the Rangers in 2001-02 and Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet was the first to accomplish the feat in 1992-93. Tocchet recorded 252 penalty minutes and 48 goals with Pittsburgh.
Puck drop --
"There should be no looking back from here. These last 10 games, destiny is in our hands. We want to finish it." -- Bruins left wing Milan Lucic