The Bruins look to continue their home dominance of the Lightning on Wednesday night when the teams open their season series.
Boston (10-7-8) had 116 points to finish atop the Eastern Conference last season, and reached the second round of the playoffs before being upset by sixth-seeded Carolina in seven games.
The Bruins were expected to carry some of that momentum into this season, but got off to an 8-8-4 start while centers Marc Savard(notes) and David Krejci(notes), left wing Milan Lucic(notes) and goaltender Tim Thomas(notes) all missed time due to injuries.
Savard and Krejci were Boston’s top two scorers from last season, totaling 47 goals and 161 points. Lucic, known for his physical play, is out again after hurting his ankle last week and expected to miss about a month.
Savard and Krejci, though, are back and the Bruins have gone 5-0-1 to get themselves back in the Northeast Division race with Buffalo and Ottawa.
Thomas is looking to improve on his performance as he shakes off the effects of an undisclosed injury that sidelined him for six games. He gave up a goal on the first shot of the game Saturday before settling down to make 19 saves through overtime and coming up big in the shootout.
“I messed up. I had to tell the guys on the ice that I messed up,” Thomas said.
Thomas has won four of five games against Tampa Bay (10-7-8) at TD Garden, posting a 2.05 goals-against average.
The Bruins have dominated Tampa Bay at home, winning seven of nine and going 22-3-0 with six ties all-time. They went 3-1-0 against the Lightning last season, winning both meetings at Boston.
The Lightning, 2-3-2 in their last seven, are looking to avoid their first three-game slide since opening the season 0-1-2.
They lost 3-0 to Colorado—the first time they were shut out this season— while coming up empty on seven power-play chances.
“We’re really having a lot of guys struggling to score goals,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’re relying on a few guys every night. We need some guys to score.
“As a coaching staff, you try to take pressure off of certain guys, but you gotta score. You gotta get to the net and you gotta try to get those ugly goals. It’s getting to the point where we need some offense.”
Right wing Martin St. Louis(notes) and center Vincent Lecavalier(notes) are having a tough time scoring this season. The duo, which combined for 59 goals in 2008-09, has only 10 this season and failed to produce a point in the last two games.
Lecavalier has had success at Boston, getting nine goals and 11 assists in 20 games, but St. Louis has been held to three goals and five assists in 17 contests.