The Tampa Bay Lightning again find themselves trying to avoid their longest losing streak in more than six years. They are not facing an ideal opponent to make sure it doesn’t happen.
The Lightning (10-13-2) look to avoid a seventh consecutive loss by overcoming their recent struggles against the Boston Bruins (13-8-2) when the teams meet on Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay also dropped six straight earlier this season, recording its worst slide since November 2005, but ended the skid by beating Florida 3-1 on Nov. 7. The Lightning went on to win five straight, but have since lost all six of their games and are now tied for the second-fewest points in the Eastern Conference with 22.
A loss Saturday would give Tampa Bay its worst losing streak since dropping eight in a row from Jan. 12-25, 2001.
The Lightning will try to prevent that from happening against a Boston team it has defeated only once in the last 10 meetings. The Bruins have won five straight overall in the series, including a 4-1 home victory on Oct. 18, and four in a row at Tampa since Dec. 27, 2003.
Plus, Boston has been hot, winning six of eight and coming off back-to-back road victories in Philadelphia and Florida.
The Lightning have lost two straight home games, scoring only three goals, after going 8-1-1 through their first 10.
Tampa Bay has been limited to 12 goals during this six-game skid, and maybe the offensive low point came in the first period of a 4-2 loss at Detroit on Thursday as it was outshot 17-1. It’s the only time this season the Lightning have not registered more than one shot in a period.
“Puck possession-wise, they killed us,” said Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis, who has eight goals and 23 assists this season. “It’s a tough way to play when you don’t have the puck against a good team like that.”
Even NHL points leader Vincent Lecavalier has been in a drought. Lecavalier, with 16 goals and 22 assists, is in danger of going three straight games without a point for the first time since a four-game span from Nov. 22-27, 2005. The center has been stuck on 249 goals and 299 assists for his career.
Lecavalier has 14 goals and 22 assists in 33 games against Boston, but he has only scored once in the last six meetings.
Boston’s Marc Savard has had no such struggles recently, riding an eight-game point streak during which he has two goals and 13 assists. He has two goals and eight assists in his last four games against the Lightning.
Savard had two assists and Zdeno Chara scored two power-play goals in the Bruins’ 4-3 win over the Panthers on Thursday.
After Phil Kessel’s goal made it 4-1 with 15:03 left, the Bruins hung on after their lead was cut to one with 30 seconds remaining.
“We’re happy with the win, but not satisfied with the ending,” said Chara, who had a second straight two-point outing.
The Bruins are trying to win three straight road games for the first time since a four-game run from Feb. 17-23.