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Close quarters; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Boston Bruins preview

Three teams, back-to-back games, and a single point for a division lead...

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Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida | When: 7:30 PM EST
Radio: | Television: Fox Sports Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Stanley Cup of Chowder, Big Bad Blog, Bruins Blog

It seems like the narrative is repeating itself in game day previews that the Eastern Conference of divisional standings are a tight-tight ordeal... Yeah, well, it's a truth. On the flip side of back-to-back games, the Lightning are hosting the Boston Bruins... who are a single point behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division after beating the Florida Panthers last night, 5-4 in overtime. Yup, that's right - points all around! It's not just the Bruins who are a single point behind Tampa Bay in the Division!

Five goals is sound scoring, five goals in 32 shots total (fielded by Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya) is impressive; the Bruins accomplished without overdoing the attack. By comparison, Florida put up 51 shots total against Tuukka Rask... Which likely holds sway in who starts in net tonight for Boston at Amalie Arena.

In case you didn't see the game last night for the Lightning, the team spent more time on the defensive and Andrei Vasilevskiy did a hell of a job staving off as much of a Flyers attack as he could up until the end. Ondrej Palat scored the Lightning's first goal on the team's first shot of the game. There was not another Tampa Bay goal (Vladislav Namestnikov) until late in the 3rd period.

Steve Mason, the Flyers goalie of the night, faced all of 18 shots. Most of that attack didn't come until the 3rd period.

A loss is not a good thing, but did it save a degree of energy for tonight? Tonight holds direct sway on the standings, even if the Lightning have dressed-down the importance of games a tad - playoffs matter, seeding doesn't - recently? How about the Bruins defense; was it overworked last night in staving off the Panthers? Boston jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first period and Florida came back. 51 shots, as I said, might have been directly on Tuukka Rask but Boston had to deal with the overall effort from Florida in general.

Then again, that plays out for Tampa Bay too - did the Flyers wear down the Bolts enough with their gotta-get-a-playoff-berth surge? The Lightning faces that Flyers team again on Friday, by the way.  The Flyers are off until then... The Bolts have tonight's affair to prepare for that game.

It was confirmed early this morning Ben Bishop gets the nod for tonight between the pipes off the Lightning, that's no surprise whatsoever. No announcement, as of this writing, has been made by the Bruins on the starting goalie there. Odds are Jonas Gustavsson will be tabbed. Gustavsson's started 17 games (19 total appearances) for Boston, posting a 2.69 GAA and a .909 save percentage.

There's been no word on the Lightning defensive situation tonight that I've seen: Is Brayden Coburn out still? Is Andrej Sustr still on the mend?  Slater Koekkoek (who assisted on the Palat goal last night) hasn't been re-assigned to the Crunch so odds are we'll see the same defensive group as we did last night in Boston.

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