Bruins try to avoid third straight loss vs. Lightning

The Boston Bruins will try to avoid just their second game slide of the season when they visit the Lightning tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

With a pair of regulation losses this weekend, the Bruins lost consecutive games for the fourth time since the start of February. Although Boston has a mediocre 12-14-2 record in its last 28 games, the defending Stanley Cup champions haven't lost three in a row since dropping a trio of games in regulation from Oct. 22-29.

The Bruins are just two points ahead of idle Ottawa for first place in the Northeast Division and will use one of two games in hand over the Senators tonight.

Boston had won two in a row before losing a 4-3 decision Saturday against visiting Washington. The Bruins were then dealt a 5-2 setback the following day in Pittsburgh, as James Neal scored a goal and assisted on two others to lead the Penguins to a ninth straight victory.

David Krejci netted both goals for Boston, while Tim Thomas started in net for the Bruins, but was pulled after yielding three goals on 10 shots in the first period.

"It's disappointing to have to dig ourselves out of a hole again," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "But I think our guys battled hard."

Marty Turco, just signed by the Bruins on March 5 after an injury to Tuukka Rask, saw his first action and turned aside 20 shots over the final 40 minutes. The 37-year-old Thomas started his fifth straight game on Sunday and the two-time Vezina winner could be back in the crease for Boston tonight.

Boston forward Patrice Bergeron left Sunday's game with a bruised left foot after blocking a shot and he is expected to be a game-time decision for tonight. Bergeron is second on the team with 55 points this season.

The Bruins began a three-game road trip on Sunday and are 20-12-1 as the guest this season.

Tampa Bay, which lost in seven games to Boston in last year's Eastern Conference finals, is running out of time to break into this season's playoff picture. With 14 games left in the regular season, the Bolts are seven points behind Washington for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East.

The Lightning have lost three in a row (0-2-1) since a four-game win streak from Feb. 26-March 3 and they dropped a 4-2 decision in Saturday's home test against Carolina. Jeff Skinner netted two goals, including the game-winner in the third period, as the Hurricanes spoiled the first test of Tampa Bay's seven-game homestand.

Ryan Malone and Nate Thompson scored for the Lightning, while Dustin Tokarski was tagged for three goals on 25 shots in just his second NHL start.

"I thought I played well," Tokarski said. "I think the guys did a good job of letting me see the puck. I thought we outplayed them but they buried their chances and [Carolina goaltender Cam Ward] was great."

With Mathieu Garon sidelined with a lower-body injury until at least late- March, Tokarski and struggling veteran Dwayne Roloson were expected to fight for playing time down the stretch, but the rookie will get the call again tonight.

Despite losing the opener of the homestand, the Lightning hope to build some momentum during this residency. Tampa Bay is 20-11-2 as the host this year compared to an 11-19-5 mark on the road.

Boston and the Bolts have split two meetings this year and the Bruins have won five of eight and seven of the last 11 regular-season matchups in this series.