|Division-leading Bruins look to end skid at Tampa Bay|
The Tampa Bay Lightning righted a tough start to the week on Tuesday night in South Florida, but an even greater test within the Atlantic Division looms Thursday, when they host the Boston Bruins.
The Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 in Sunrise, Fla., on Tuesday behind goals from Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn, but one major factor was the play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner outdueled his Russian counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky -- a two-time winner of the award -- as Tampa Bay bounced back from a 5-1 home loss to the New York Islanders on Monday.
Vasilevskiy turned aside 27 shots by the Panthers while Bobrovsky tallied a season-high 46 saves. The only shot to beat Vasilevskiy was Evgenii Dadonov's goal with two minutes remaining and Bobrovsky pulled in favor of the extra attacker.
Killorn added an assist for the Lightning, who improved to 8-5-2 on the road this season.
According to Lightning coach Jon Cooper, much of the success was a commitment to defense.
"Part of playing defense can start 200 feet away," Cooper said. "If you're going to put up close to 50 shots and spend some time in their zone, it limits how much you're in your own zone."
Oddly, the Lightning -- four games deep into a stretch of 10 of 12 at home -- are just 1-4-0 in their past five games in downtown Tampa.
They return there for a battle of heavyweights within the Eastern Conference on Thursday when they face the Bruins, who sit atop the Atlantic Division standings but have lost four games in a row (0-3-1).
The Bruins played Wednesday in the first of back-to-back road tilts against two of the conference's top teams.
Boston lost 3-2 to the Washington Capitals, rallying to tie it 2-2 but giving up the winning goal to John Carlson in the third period.
Sharpshooter David Pastrnak netted his league-leading 26th goal in the first period before T.J. Oshie scored twice in the second to put the Capitals up 2-1, but Sean Kuraly's deflection leveled the score.
The Bruins muddled their way through a 0-for-5 showing on the power play.
The best news for Boston may have been seeing more of center Patrice Bergeron, who returned to the lineup Monday night in the club's 5-2 road loss to the Ottawa Senators.
The top-line pivot missed seven games with a lower-body injury.
"I was trying to keep things simple early on, and then I got going, felt better, got my legs underneath me and felt pretty good," said Bergeron, who scored his ninth goal in his first game back.
Boston hasn't won since a 2-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 3.
With the Bruins playing a game within their division in Washington on Wednesday, backup goalie Jaroslav Halak started and made 22 saves.
No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask is expected to be in net on Thursday in the second of four meetings between the Bruins and Lightning. Tampa Bay won 4-3 in a shootout at Boston on Oct. 17.
The Bruins will conclude their four-game road swing with a stop Saturday night against the Panthers.
--Field Level Media