Boston at Tampa Bay
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning could be without their captain when they host the first-place Boston Bruins Tuesday night for what may be the decisive Atlantic Division showdown. Steven Stamkos, who is second on the team with 86 points, suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Nashville and is questionable for Tuesday while the Lightning hold out hope he could play before the end of the regular season.
Tampa Bay missed an opportunity to set a franchise record for points in a season and to tie the Bruins for first place with the setback Sunday – its fourth in five contests – and managed five goals in its last four losses. Boston has a two-point lead with four games to go – one more than the Lightning – and has earned at least a point in nine straight outings (5-0-4), including two wins over Tampa Bay in that stretch. The Bruins scored in the final seconds to tie before losing 4-3 in overtime at Philadelphia on Sunday, but gained a valuable point on the second of a tough back-to-back. “We’re proud of the way we battled and got that extra point from that situation towards the end,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara told reporters Sunday. “It’s a battle and we kept the puck in and we got rewarded, so obviously everybody was pretty happy about that comeback.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet One, TVA, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (49-17-12): Special teams have played a big part in the team’s streak as the power play is 6-for-11 in the last four games and the penalty kill is 21-for-22 over the past nine contests. Chara, a former Norris Trophy winner, returned to the lineup for the first time in almost three weeks Sunday and Boston could get talented rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy (knee) back for the first time since March 3 on Tuesday. Wing David Pastrnak has five goals and eight of his 78 points in the last six games while center Patrice Bergeron owns seven points in five games since his return from injured reserve.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (52-23-4): Coach Jon Cooper reshuffled the lines without Stamkos at practice Monday with Brayden Point (30 goals, 64 points) centering leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (38, 97) and Ondrej Palat, who scored the only goal Sunday. Right wing Ryan Callahan returned to the lineup Sunday and versatile forward Cory Conacher is likely to take Stamkos’ spot if the center can’t go. Andrei Vasilevskiy (.919 save percentage) shares the league lead with a franchise-record 42 wins, but is just 2-5-0 in his last seven and has allowed at least three goals in nine of his past 10 appearances.
1. The Bruins have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Lightning, including all three this season by a combined score of 10-4.
2. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman is one goal from equaling his career high of 16 and has 11 of his 60 points in the last 10 contests.
3. Boston LW Brad Marchand, who leads the team with 84 points, was fined $5,000 for his cross check on Philadelphia’s D Andrew MacDonald on Sunday.