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Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning: Preview and Game Day Thread

The two teams would have faced each other in the first round, if playoffs started today.

NHL: DEC 04 Lightning at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins: GAME #37

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, NESN

Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder

The Tampa Bay Lightning finally got back Nikita Kucherov, who looked like he had not missed a single game in his first game in three months. The Russian forward recorded two assists in the game against the Calgary Flames and was deservedly named the first star of the game.

The top line, with Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point, was dominant that night. They posted an incredible 76.13 xGF% in 11 minutes together on the ice and controlled the pace of the game. The power play looked also much better with Kucherov’s presence, despite the fact that they didn’t convert their chances on Thursday night. But, as Mikhail Sergachev mentioned after the game, Kucherov wasn’t satisfied with his performance, still thinking that he could do more.

The Lightning are preparing for tonight’s game with the most optimal line-up since the start of the season. The only missing part is Ross Colton, who’s still on the COVID-19 protocol, but will likely be available next week. Zach Bogosian also remains out with a lower-body injury, but Cal Foote has been a solid replacement for him so far.

Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins are heading to Tampa Bay after a 2-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Bruins are currently sitting in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, ten points behind the leading group. The Bruins will be likely fighting for a wild-card playoff spot, and if postseason started today, the Lightning would face them in the first round.

The Bruins top defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed last game due to lower body injury, but should be available for tonight’s game. The Bruins also await the return of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who recently signed a PTO deal with the Providence Bruins in the AHL, but this will happen later.

The Lightning defeated the Bruins in their first game of the season last December. In that game the Bruins turned the game into overtime after trailing 0-2 to the Lightning by the end of the second period, but an overtime goal by Steven Stamkos clinched two points for the Lightning on that night.

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Boris Katchouk - Mathieu Joseph - Taylor Raddysh

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Boston Bruins Lines:

Forwards

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Craig Smith

Taylor Hall — Erik Haula — David Pastrnak

Nick Foligno — Charlie Coyle — Oscar Steen

Trent Frederic — Curtis Lazar — Anton Blidh

Defense

Mike Reilly — Brandon Carlo

John Moore — Matt Grzelcyk

Derek Forbort — Connor Clifton

Goaltenders

Jeremy Swayman

Linus Ullmark