Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay
When: 7:30 PM ET, Monday, March 25, 2019
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
TAMPA – The Boston Bruins clinched a spot in the playoffs last time out and will face a potential second-round opponent tonight when they visit the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning for the first of two meetings before the end of the regular season.
The Bruins, who host the Lightning on April 5, secured a spot in the postseason with a 7-3 victory at Florida on Saturday to extend their winning streak to four, and hold a seven-point edge on Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division.
“It’s a big win for us,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara told reporters after scoring his 200th career goal Saturday. “Clinching playoffs in the new (NHL), it’s not easy. You can see that every year teams are really battling hard for every point to get into the playoffs, and it’s a grind. So if you don’t play consistently well and strong throughout the year, it’s going to catch up.”
The Lightning, who have split a pair of games against the Bruins this season, saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end with a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on Saturday after falling behind by three goals in the first period. “Not how you want to start a game, but I thought we showed a good level of compete after that,” Tampa Bay center Brayden Point told reporters after scoring his 40th goal.
“I thought we played pretty well, had some chances. They made some good saves and held us in.” Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov leads the league with 120 points, but was held off the scoresheet Saturday, while Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has scored in four straight contests.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TVA, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific, NESN (Boston), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (46-20-9): Chara became the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to reach 200 goals, on the same day he signed a one-year contract extension. “He’s our backbone,” Boston’s leading scorer Brad Marchand (92 points) told reporters of the 42-year-old Chara. “He’s such an incredible leader on and off the ice, and he’s the guy that brings it every day. We’re fortunate to have him next year and it couldn’t be more fitting for him to get that 200th (goal).” Marchand boasts seven points in the last four games while linemate Patrice Bergeron owns eight in the same span to tie his career high with 73.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (58-14-4): Point became the sixth different player to score 40 goals in a single season for the club while Stamkos (39) could also reach the milestone for the fifth time and Kucherov (37) for the second. Victor Hedman saw his seven-game point streak come to an end Saturday despite five shots on goal while fellow defenseman Ryan McDonagh (league-best plus-38 rating) moved within two of his career high of 43 points (2013-14). Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 22 shots to lose for just the second time in 17 games Saturday, but still leads the league with 36 victories and owns a .928 save percentage.
1. Tampa Bay C Anthony Cirelli boasts three goals and three assists during a five-game point streak.
2. Boston C Sean Kuraly underwent hand surgery and is expected to miss four weeks.
3. Lightning F Yanni Gourde will serve the second of a two-game suspension for an illegal hit.