The Boston Bruins (46-20-9, 101 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) visit the Tampa Bay Lightning (58-14-4, 120 points, 1st in the Atlantic Division) in their final visit to Amalie Arena in the 2018-19 regular season.
Boston is 1-1-0 against Tampa this season with their most recent matchup being a, 4-1, victory on home ice on Feb. 28th and their loss to the Lightning coming at the hands of a, 3-2, defeat in Tampa on Dec. 6th.
The two teams battled in the Second Round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Bolts advancing in five games.
Both clubs have already clinched a spot in the 2019 postseason with the Lightning holding home ice advantage throughout the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of having won the President’s Trophy.
The highest the Bruins can finish at the end of this current regular season is 2nd in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.
The B’s enter Tampa on a four-game win streak (including a 3-0-0 record on their current four-game road trip) and might be getting back another player from injury Monday night.
Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) joined the club in Florida last Friday and is a game-time decision according to Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy.
Kevan Miller (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) and Torey Krug (concussion) remain traveling with the team, but will not be back in the lineup.
Additionally, Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) remains out for approximately four weeks.
Chris Wagner had a maintenance day at practice on Sunday, but should be good to go on the third line with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle against the Lightning.
If Johansson does return to the lineup against Tampa, he’ll play on the right side of Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.
Karson Kuhlman will likely be the odd forward out of the lineup as a healthy scratch on Monday.
Cassidy is expected to start Tuukka Rask (26-10-5 record, 2.35 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 42 games played) in net against the Lightning.
Tampa head coach, Jon Cooper, is expected to rely on his usual starter, Andrei Vasilevskiy (36-9-4, 2.33 GAA, .928 SV% in 49 GP)– in the midst of a career-year and what should be a Vezina Trophy winning performance this season– against Boston.
Yanni Gourde is serving the second game of his two-game suspension and will not be in the lineup for the Lightning. As such, Ryan Callahan will participate in his third consecutive game.
Dan Girardi will also miss Monday night’s matchup and may miss the remainder of the regular season for Tampa.
The Bruins are 8-3-0 in the month of March, while the Bolts are 9-2-0 so far this month with a, 3-0, loss against the Minnesota Wild on March 7th and a, 4-3, loss in St. Louis against the Blues on March 23rd.
Both teams face each other one more time at TD Garden on April 6th, which is the final day of the 2018-19 NHL regular season.
Boston defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night at BB&T Center in a blowout victory, 7-3, as the Bruins clinched a playoff berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result of the win.
Jaroslav Halak (20-10-4, 2.31 GAA, .924 SV% in 37 GP) made 31 saves on 34 shots against for a .912 SV% in the effort for the B’s, while Florida goaltender, Sam Montembeault (4-3-1, 3.02 GAA, .893 SV% in eight GP) stopped 32 out of 38 shots faced in the loss for the Panthers.
Halak joins Tuukka Rask with 20 or more wins this season for Boston. It marks the first time since the 1989-90 season that the Bruins have two goaltenders with at least 20 wins on the season (Andy Moog, 24 wins in 1989-90, and Reggie Lemelin, 22).
Noel Acciari, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Karson Kuhlman, Steven Kampfer, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had the goals for the Bruins, while Jayce Hawryluk, Mike Hoffman and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.
Chara’s goal was the 200th goal of his NHL career. He is just the 22nd defender in league history to amass 200 or more goals in his career.
Boston surpassed the 100-point total on the season for a league-leading 23rd time in franchise history and clinched a playoff berth for the third season in a row under Bruce Cassidy’s reign behind the bench.
It is the 10th playoff appearance in the last 12 seasons for the Bruins.