Bruins return to Tampa to face sliding Bolts

The last time the Lightning hosted the Bruins, they staved off elimination in the Eastern Conference finals by forcing a Game 7.

In a rematch this evening, they'll be looking to snap their longest losing streak in almost three years.

Tampa Bay comes into this meeting with surging Boston having gone 0-6-1 in its past seven games. That is the club's longest skid since closing out the 2008-09 season with an 0-7-2 mark, hardly what you would expect out of a team that took the defending Stanley Cup champions to seven games in last season's conference finals.

The Lightning currently sit last in the Southeast Division with 38 points.

Tampa Bay did show some resilience in its last trip to the ice, erasing a three-goal deficit in the third period against Pittsburgh on goals from Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell and Matt Gilroy, who logged his first of the season.

However, the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin responded with a natural hat trick to hand the Lightning a 6-3 defeat. Mathieu Garon was tagged for five goals on 43 shots faced.

"When you're winning games you're scoring goals and playing good defense," said Malone. "Right now we're not doing that and it kills your confidence."

Frustration boiled over for the Lightning and usually reserved captain Vincent Lecavalier. The forward had a pair of assists before earning a double-minor for roughing and a game-misconduct for going after Malkin in the third period. After the two collided in the corner boards, Lecavalier stalked Malkin up the ice and eventually threw punches at the Pens center, who only got two minutes for roughing.

It wasn't the first time Lecavalier took exception to something an opponent did. He also started a melee against the Rangers back on Dec. 8 after New York's Artem Anisimov made a motion with his stick like he was firing a rifle following a goal. Tampa Bay came back to win that game 3-2 in a shootout.

Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher had no issue with his captain's response versus the Penguins.

"You know, Vinny felt that Malkin tried to go for his knees," said Boucher. "You want to stay in the game, but at the same time, we were all happy when he did that with the Rangers and turned things around and we won the game. Those situations, he's the captain and he wants to show we're not going to take everything and just be little poodles. For me, there is no blame on his part."

With Dana Tyrell out for tonight with a lower-body injury, the Lightning recalled Trevor Smith from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Smith has logged 44 points in 39 games in the AHL this season.

Tampa Bay gets no mercy tonight in a meeting with the Bruins, who have won 12 of their past 15 and lead the Northeast Division with 59 points. That is one back of the Rangers for the most in the conference.

Boston began a four-game road trip on Saturday with a loss in Carolina that saw the club allow three goals in the third period. The Bruins rebounded last night, claiming a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice in regulation, giving him seven goals and 11 points over his past seven games, and David Krejci had the game-winner in the shootout after having his career-best 11-game point streak halted in the game. It was also Boston's 12th victory in its last 15 road games.

"It was a lot better. We still made mistakes we could avoid," Bergeron said, referencing Saturday's late-game collapse in Carolina. "We found a way to win tonight and that makes for a good effort. We have to carry that over for [Tuesday] night. It was a total team win and that's what we needed."

Tuukka Rask came up with 38 saves to extend his career-high win streak to seven straight games.

Boston played without Rich Peverley after he left the team to attend a personal matter. He is also expected to miss tonight's game.

Peverley scored twice in Boston's 4-1 home win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 8, the Bruins' fourth straight regular-season victory against the Lightning.