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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 23rd (All times eastern)

Boston Bruins (31-23-6) at Tampa Bay Lightning (25-29-7), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Boston Bruins will try to get some separation in a tight Eastern Conference tonight as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Bruins enter this test tied with New York and Buffalo for the sixth spot in the East, as well as eight points back of first-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is last in the conference with a mere 57 points.

Boston has won three of its last four tests after defeating Florida, 5-4, in a shootout on Thursday. Marco Sturm scored the game-winner in the extra session, slipping a quick wrister between the pads of Tomas Vokoun.

Sturm also netted his team-leading 20th goal in regulation and added two assists, while Dennis Wideman added his career-high ninth goal and an assist. Zdeno Chara and Phillip Kessel both tallied third-period goals to force the shootout.

Tim Thomas started in net for Boston, but was pulled after two periods as he allowed four goals on 12 shots. Alex Auld finished the game between the pipes, stopping 15 shots in regulation and all three shooters in the shootout.

The Bruins have won five of their last six on the road and wrap a five-game trek tonight. Boston is 3-0-1 thus far on the swing and 17-11-3 overall on the road this season.

Tampa Bay has lost three straight after Thursday's 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The Lightning failed to get any of their 32 shots past Rick DiPietro.

Karri Ramo, who had won two of his last three starts, took the loss despite stopping 27-of-28 shots. Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella failed to tie Bob Johnson (234) for the most wins all-time by an American-born coach.

The Lightning are gearing up for what should be a busy Tuesday, as the club plays its final game before the trade deadline. Last in the East, Tampa Bay has several pending unrestricted free agents on the roster.

Along with the likes of Chris Gratton, Jan Hlavac and Johan Holmqvist, Vaclav Prospal should get a lot of offers as he has netted a career-high 28 goals this season. However, defenseman Dan Boyle would make a great addition to any blue liner and is arguably Tampa Bay's biggest bargaining chip.

The Lighting begin a three-game homestand tonight and host Minnesota on Wednesday and Toronto on Friday. Tampa Bay is 15-14-2 as the host this season.

Tampa Bay and Boston have split a pair of meetings this year with each team winning once on home ice. However, the Bruins have won nine of their last 11 against the Lightning, including four of the last five in Tampa.

02/23 10:36:26 ET


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