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Preview: Lightning at Bruins

Tampa Bay trails Boston by five points for second wild card into playoffs from Eastern Conference

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (34-29-9) at BRUINS (38-29-6)

7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, NESN, SUN, NHL.TV


Lightning team scope

The Tampa Bay Lightning trail the Boston Bruins by five points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. The Lightning have been outscored 15-6 in three straight losses. "I think looking at how many goals we're going to score, that's not our issue. It's keeping them out of the net. That's the problem we've had the last few games -- you can't be giving up three and four a night," coach Jon Cooper said. "You can't win in this League doing that. ... We've got to keep the puck out of the net." Tampa Bay is 0-2-1 against Boston this season. "With how many games are left, and the standings, it's going to be a feisty game out there," forward Jonathan Drouin said. Goaltender Peter Budaj will start for the third time since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 27 and the first time since a 3-2 win at the New York Rangers on March 13. Budaj is 4-1-0 with a 1.19 goals-against average at TD Garden.


Bruins team scope

The Bruins lead the New York Islanders by two points for the second wild card; New York has one game in hand. Boston trails the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are 12-6-0 since Bruce Cassidy took over as coach Feb. 7 but are 0-3-0 in their past three games. "We have to get past what's happened and you can't dwell on that," forward Brad Marchand said. "Tonight is a huge game and it's the only thing we can worry about. We can't control or change what's happened and again we're in a pretty good spot. So there's no reason to be down about the games that we've lost recently. We just have to get back on the horse and have a good game." Marchand is third in the NHL with 80 points (37 goals, 43 assists) and trails Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid by five points for the League lead. Cassidy plans to juggle his lines again, with Noel Acciari moving to right wing with left wing Frank Vatrano and center Ryan Spooner after playing two games on the fourth line. "Frank's a shooter, Spooner's a [distributor], they need someone going to the net," Cassidy said. "Noel, we'll give him a shot there." Goaltender Tuukka Rask will make his fourth straight start.


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Jonathan Drouin

J.T. Brown -- Gabriel Dumont -- Luke Witkowski

Joel Vermin -- Yanni Gourde -- Adam Erne

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Andrej Sustr

Peter Budaj

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Greg McKegg

Injured: Steven Stamkos (knee), Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body)


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Backes

Drew Stafford -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano -- Ryan Spooner -- Noel Acciari

Matt Beleskey -- Dominic Moore -- Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid

Colin Miller -- Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Jimmy Hayes, John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow

Injured: Tim Schaller (lower body)


Status report

Stamkos skated in the morning but will miss his 56th straight game since he injured his knee Nov. 15 and required surgery. "I hope I'm on the right path. But time is kind of running out," Stamkos said. "I hope there's enough time I can help out or we can get back in the mix and get in the playoffs and hope to be ready by then. I'll continue to take it day by day."... Paquette skated but will miss his seventh straight game because of a lower-body injury. He said he'll miss the game at the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.


Who's hot

Kucherov has four points (three goals, one assist) in his past two games and 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in his past 14. Hedman has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 13 games. ... Marchand has 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) in his past 13 games. Pastrnak has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his past 13 games.

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