Thursday – 7:30pm EST at St. Pete Times Forum – will mark the 65th meeting between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in their lifetime series.The Bruins hold a 39-16-9-0 record over the Lightning, and a 216-166 scoring edge.
The Bruins visit the Lightning for the third of four games between these two teams this season. Boston took the first match, 4-1 at the TD Garden on Dec. 2. Tim Thomas made 39 of 40 saves for the W, as Mike Smith stopped 35 of 39 shots that came his way.Tampa Bay took the second game, at home 2-1, in the same goaltending dual. Thomas kicked-aside 37 of 39 Lightning shots; while at the other end of the ice, Smith was near perfect with 31 saves on 32 shots against. Unfortunately, these two net-minders won’t be able to settle the score, as Nittymaki and Rask and sure to get the nods on Thursday.
The Lightning will be looking for their first five-game winning-streak since Nov. 2007, while the Bruins look for their first three-game-streak since Dec. 21 – 27 of this season. These two Eastern Conference squads are neck-and-neck in the standings – and with just two games remaining before the Olympic break – these two-points on Thursday night are immense for both teams.
Home Team: Tampa Bay Lightning (26-21-11, 63 points 2nd Southeast Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 17-6-6 at home, 7-2-1 last 10)
Nutz and Boltz By: TB Lightning Examiner, Althea Pashman:
Goalies don’t get much hotter than Antero Niittymaki is right now. He’s won four straight starts and seven of his last eight, with one overtime loss mixed in to improve his season record to 16-9-5. Lightning goaltenders have allowed a league-best mark of 59 goals at home and have put up good individual numbers as well. Mike Smith is 7-3-3 at home this year with a .930 SV% and a 2.14 GAA, while Antero Niittymaki is 10-3-3 at home with a .944 SV% and a 1.75 GAA.
The Lightning are 10-1-2 in their last 13 games at the St. Pete Times Forum and has outscored their opponents 37-22 in those contests. The team’s 17 wins at home come in 7th place in the NHL and they hold the league’s 3rd-best mark along with Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas for the least amount of losses at home with 6, behind leaders San Jose (5) and Washington (3).
Feb. 11 lineups:
Steve Downie-Steven Stamkos-Marty St. Louis
Stephane Veilleux-Vinny Lecavalier-Alex Tanguay
Ryan Malone-Nate Thompson-Jeff Halpern
Todd Fedoruk-Zenon Konopka-Kurtis Foster
Mike Lundin- Mattias Ohlund
Victor Hedman- Andrej Meszaros
Matt Walker- Matt Smaby
PP1: Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Kurtis Foster, Andrej Meszaros
PP2: Ryan Malone, Alex Tanguay, Jeff Halpern, Steve Downie, Victor Hedman
IR: David Hale (Broken Leg)
Antero Niittymaki: Has posted a 7-0-1 record in his past eight games, including a .965 save percentage and a 1.09 GAA
Steven Stamkos: Netted his team-high 33rd goal against Vancouver on Tuesday night and league tying 14th power-play goal. Has a career-high 10 game streak going 8-7-15 during this span, with 11 points in his last seven games.
Martin St. Louis: 7-4-11 in his last seven contests. Riding a seven games point streak and has collected at least a point in 10 of the last 11 contests
Steve Downie: 0-7-7 in his last seven contests, currently riding a five game point streak (0-5-5)
“We’re just getting great plays from him [Niittymaki] and Marty and Stamkos scoring every game, said Rick Tocchet. I’ve got to give credit to the Thompson line. They shut down the twins [Henrik and Daniel Sedin] pretty good tonight. Halpy and Bugsy [Halpern and Malone] did a nice job. Obviously Niitty’s definitely earned his keep. He’s playing really good for us right now.”
“As long as you are winning,” Rick Tocchet said of the three-man winning formula. “We’re putting the finger in the dikes right now, and I just hope we get some other people scoring before it dampers. But you know, we’re winning games. That’s just the way it is. You’ve got to be excited about that, and other teams go through it, you line up a couple of hot guys and you go with it.”
“We’re finding a way. Like I said, the reason for that is Niitty [goaltender Antero Niittymaki]. We know we have to play better in front of him, but we’re finding ways to get goals at key times. You can’t dissect it too much. We look at some clips and try to get better, but we’re finding a way right now and that’s the most important thing at this time of the year,” said Marty St. Louis on the Lightning’s 7-1-1 record despite scoring just 22 goals during this span.
Away Team: Boston Bruins (25-22-11, 61 points, 4th Northeast Division, 9th Eastern Conference, 12-10-5 away, 2-5-3 last 10)
Daniel Paille – Marc Savard – Miroslav Satan
Marco Sturm – Patrice Bergeron – Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler – David Krejci – Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic – Steve Begin – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick – Derek Morris
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid
PP1: Marco Sturm, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara
PP2: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Mark Recchi, Dennis Wideman, Derek Morris
IR: Mark Stuart [finger]
DTD: Johnny Boychuk [head]
Healthy scratches: Byron Bitz, Vladimir Sobotka
Tuukka Rask should be starting his fifth consecutive game between the pipes for the Bruins tomorrow night; and sixth of the Bruins’ last nine games. Rask is 2-0-2 in his four previous consecutive games, with one shutout, a .956 save-percentage, and a goals-against average just south of 1.50. On the season, “Tuukka Time” has compiled a 12-7-4 record, 3 SO, .931 save-percentage [1st in the NHL], and a 2.01 goals-against average [2nd overall]
“”He’s very confident in his ability. He’s got a good confidence to him. Not a cocky attitute, but he’s very confident in the way he can play. He’s starting to show that.” head coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday night’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres. “He’s getting an opportunity to play in some consecutive games and he’s really taken advantage of it.”
Daniel Paille: snapped a seven-game point-less drought on Tuesday night by lighting the lamp twice against his former club; now giving the 25-year-old 9-8-17 on the season.
“The last time we were in this building [HSBC Arena in Buffalo] he really had a tough night. I don’t know if he was nervous.” Julien said of Paille’’s previous game against his former team. “[tonight] With Savvy and Satan on his line he had some skill and guys to get him the puck. He was a big player for us tonight.
“We like the way he skates. We like the way he forechecks and he creates a lot of turnovers.” Julien added. “He’s been good for us; penalty-killing-wise, he scored some goals, but I think he’s playing with a bit more confidence so it’s been a good change for him I think ”
Marc Savard: has been seven games removed from his MCL injury, and has 0-7-7 totals in six of those seven.
Marco Sturm: 2-1-3 in two of his last three contests and 15 shots on goal during that span.
Zdeno Chara: 1-2-3 totals throughout his current three-game point streak.
Miroslav Satan: notched an assist on Tuesday night, snapping a seven-game point-less drought.
Milan Lucic: has just 1-2-3 totals in 16 games since returning for that high-ankle sprain – along with a disappointing minus-12 rating
See more work like this from Mark Marino at The Hub of Hockey.