The Tampa Bay Lightning looks to snap a season-high three-game losing streak when the team hosts the surging Boston Bruins on Saturday night (Oct. 31). Boston comes into Tampa on a roll going 5-0-1 in their past six games after a 3-1 win at the Florida Panthers on Friday (Oct. 30).
Last season the Lightning netted 262 goals in the NHL and after a 5-2-1 start to the 2015-16 season in which they scored 27 it looked as though the team had picked up where they left off.
However, that hasn’t been the case as their production has all but dried up which is evident in back-to-back shutout losses at Chicago (1-0) and St. Louis (2-0) and a 2-1 loss on Thursday (Oct. 29) to Colorado in their recent road trip.
During the 2014-15 season the Bolts were shutout just once and that came in their 76th games and in their last three contest going 0-2-1, the Bolts have netted just one goal. “If we were like the NFL with a 16-game season, I would be worried,” Coach Jon Cooper said. “But it’s an 82-game season. I’m not worried,”
During this three game span, the one goal came on the power-play after 156 minutes and 3 seconds when Alex Killorn scored in the second period against Colorado Thursday night. It was the team’s first power-play goal in three games and as well the 2-1 loss sent the Bolts into a three-game losing streak, their first since the 2013-14 season.
“There are ups and downs in the season, and it’s too bad that a goal drought like this is happening early on,” Alex Killorn said. “But we’ve been through this before, and guys will get over it for sure.”
Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 24-of-26 shots in the loss to Colorado and has lost his last two starts despite giving up just three goals combined. Bishop has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his 10 starts. Bishop is 3-3-2 with a 3.08 goals-against average and .898 save percentage in eight all-time games vs. Boston and is expected to make the start for the Bolts against the Bruins.
Entering the contest against the Bruins (5-3-1) marks the second of four meetings this season, The Lightning rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Bruins 6-3 in Boston (Oct. 12), breaking a string of 10-straight losses at TD Garden. Steven Stamkos tallied the game-winner and in doing so recorded the 500th point of his NHL career. Stamkos joins Martin St. Louis (953) and Vincent Lecavalier (874) as the only Bolts to surpass the 500-point milestone.
On home ice, the Bolts defeated the Bruins twice last season 5-3 (March 22) and 3-2 in a shootout (April 11). Jonathan Marchessault scored his first NHL goal in the shootout win. The Lightning is 18-18-3 with three ties all-time at home vs. Boston and are 23-47-7 with nine ties all-time against the Bruins.
The task at hand for the Lightning (5-4-2) won’t come easy as the Bruins come into the contest having won three straight and are fresh off a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night (Oct. 30) as Brad Marchand scored twice behind a 31-save game from Tuukka Rask.
Rask was coming off his first shutout of the season with a 6-0 win over Arizona on Tuesday night back at TD Garden and is now 3-0-1 in his last four starts. With the Bruins playing back-to-back games (Friday against the Panthers) Jonas Gustavsson is expected man the pipes. Gustavsson has won both of his starts, making 23 saves in a 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders in his latest on Oct. 23.
Boston is also unbeaten on the road at 4-0-0, which matches their longest road win streak of last season and look to win five straight on the road which they haven’t done since a club-record 9-game win streak from March 2 – March 30, 2014.
Projected Line Combinations Tampa Bay
Projected Line Combinations Boston Bruins
Lightning Nutz and Boltz
Victor Hedman recorded his team-leading 10th assist of the season on Killorn’s goal. Hedman has six assists in his last five games. The Lightning has yet to hold a lead after the 1st period in any game this season. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill hasn’t given up a power-play goal in six games and has killed 18-straight opponent power plays.
Jonathan Drouin (lower-body injury), Cedric Paquette (ankle injury), is day-to-day and Tyler Johnson (undisclosed injury) didn’t practice Friday is questionable