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game preview

Lightning at Bruins preview

Stamkos returns for Tampa Bay; Boston can take first place in Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference with win

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

LIGHTNING (51-21-4) at BRUINS (47-17-11)

7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV 

 

The Game

First place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference will be on the line when the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday.

Center Steven Stamkos is expected to play for the Lightning, who have led the division since Oct. 19 and have a one-point lead with the Bruins holding one game in hand. Stamkos did not play Monday in a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes because of a lower-body injury, but said after the morning skate that he's "good to go."

Tampa Bay will look to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season and defeat Boston for the first time in three tries. The Lightning will match their record for most points in a season (108 in 2014-15) with a win.

The Bruins will look to extend their point streak to seven games after going 3-0-3 in their past six. They are 10-2-3 in their past 15 games and 6-1-0 in their past seven against the Lightning.

 

Players to watch

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in his past 14 games.

Bruins forward Brad Marchand has seven points (two goals, five assists) during a three-game point streak.

 

They said it

"They're a little bit of a barometer for us, even though we're above them in the standings. You catch the games in hand, we're pretty much even all year. But I'm personally excited for this game." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

"We try to win every game, so if it works out, great. We have not discussed [first place] once. We want to win." -- Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy

 

Lightning projected lineup

J.T. Miller -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Ondrej Palat

Chris Kunitz -- Cedric Paquette -- Cory Conacher

Victor Hedman -- Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn -- Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin

Injured: Adam Erne (lower body), Ryan Callahan (upper body)

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Ryan Donato -- David Krejci -- Brian Gionta

Danton Heinen -- Riley Nash -- David Backes

Tim Schaller -- Noel Acciari -- Tommy Wingels

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Nick Holden -- Adam McQuaid

Matt Grzelcyk -- Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Tommy Cross, Jordan Szwarz

Injured: Sean Kuraly (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained MCL), Rick Nash (upper body), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body)

 

Status report

Stamkos will replace Erne, who's out indefinitely. ... Backes will play for the first time in six games; he'll replace Kuraly. ... Grzelcyk, who left the Bruins' 5-4 shootout loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. Chara, McAvoy and DeBrusk are progressing and could return this weekend, Cassidy said.

 

Stat pack

Stamkos has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in his past 11 games. ... Rask is 8-0-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average, .906 save percentage and one shutout in his past nine starts.

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