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Lightning seek fourth straight win when Bruins visit

by Magalie Lafreni?re

BRUINS (11-5-2) at LIGHTNING  (11-7-2)


Last 10 -- Boston 5-3-2; Tampa Bay 4-5-1.

Season series -- This is the first of four match-ups of the season between the Bruins and the Lightning. The clubs split last season's series, with each team wining one home and one away game. In their most recent meeting, on March 25, Tampa came away with a 5-3 win over Boston. Steven Stamkos and Paul Szczechura each had a pair of goals, while the Bruins outshot the Lightning 50-18.

Big story -- It should be quite the game on Monday, as Boston and Tampa Bay are fourth and fifth in the Eastern Conference respectively with identical points. The Bolts will be seeking their fourth straight win and while the Bruins fell in a shootout on Saturday, they won their previous three games, which included two shutouts.

Team Scope

Bruins -- The Kings had a 3-0 lead at the start of the second period on Saturday, before the B's would score three unanswered goals, mounting a comeback and forcing overtime. Los Angeles' Michal Handzus would finally beat Tim Thomas in the sixth round of the shootout to take a 4-3 victory.

Kings coach Terry Murray, had nothing but praise for the Boston goaltender, who is second in the NHL with a GAA 1.49.

"Both goalies were very good," Murray said. "Thomas is having a great year. You can see his composure in the shootout. It could have went deeper, for sure."

Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell scored for Boston, while Thomas finished the night with 23 saves.

Lightning -- On Thursday, the Lightning won a wild 8-7 win over the Flyers, a game in which Stamkos collected a hat trick and an assist and Martin St. Louis had five helpers. Saturday, neither Stamkos nor St. Louis were on the scoresheet, but the Lightning defeated the Sabres in a 2-1 victory. Saturday's star was Mike Smith, who made 29 saves after allowing an early first-period goal.

"It's been a long time coming since I've let just one goal in," said Smith, who had allowed 10 goals combined in his last two starts. "I handled the puck as well as I've handled it all year, but it's not about me. Our team did such a great job in front of me."

Teddy Purcell and Adam Hall had Tampa's goals.

"We wanted to make sure we stayed structured," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We played a very smart defensive game, especially after the game we played in Philly. We wanted to make sure we had better awareness defensively, and stick to the plan the whole game."

Who's hot -- It was just the third time this season that Stamkos was held without a point, but the center leads the League in points with 34 and in goals with 19. St. Louis is in a three-way tie for third in points the NHL with 26. Hall has goals in two consecutive games.

Besides the strong play of Thomas in between the pipes, for the Bruins, Milan Lucic, while also being held off the scoresheet Saturday, has had five goals and two assists in his last seven games.

Injury report -- B's center Marc Savard (concussion) is participating in non-contact practice, while forwards Marco Sturm (right knee surgery) and Trent Whitfield (Achilles surgery) are on the injured reserve. ... For the Lightning, captain Vincent Lecavalier (right hand surgery), left wing Simon Gagne (neck) and defenseman Matt Smaby (ankle) are on the injured reserve.

Stat pack -- Boston has allowed a League-low 33 goals in 18 games, mostly due to the efforts of Thomas, who in four games has never been scored on by Stamkos.

Puck drop – Bruins center David Krejci returned to play Saturday after being out with a concussion since Nov. 6. He recorded four shots and 22:21 of ice time.

"Injuries like that, it’s not funny. You’ve got to be careful, so I guess maybe you could see a little bit that I played a little carefully, but I can’t do that," said Krejci. "I feel fine, so I’ve just got to be focused 100 percent for [the next game], not about my old injuries."

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