A pair of second place Eastern Conference teams meet Monday night when the Boston Bruins travel south to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first half of a brief two-game road trip through Florida.
The Bruins, with one of the league's best defenses and the NHL's stingiest goalie in Tim Thomas, will have to deal with the 10th-highest scoring offense, led by Steven Stamkos, a 19-year old whose 19 goals leads the NHL.
Stamkos, who tied Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby(notes) for the league lead in goals last season, has five points in his last two games against Boston. He scored twice in a 5-3 Lightning win at TD Garden on March 25.
"He's a young player that's had a great year, and he's playing with a lot of confidence," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after that game. "They're led by a guy named (Martin) St. Louis, who's the heart and soul of this team. This young player is kind of riding his coattail and soaking in everything he can."
Boston will be looking to continue their early season success on the road, where they are an impressive 7-1-0. It's a goal made easier thanks to Tampa Bay's injury woes.
The Lightning are pretty banged up right now. Key forwards Vincent Lacavalier (fractured hand) and Simon Gagne (neck) are both on the shelf for the Lightning. Defenseman Matt Smaby is questionable for tonight's game after spraining his ankle playing pre-game hallway soccer before a game against the Phoenix Coyotes on October 30th. The Lightning will get Mattias Ritola back after serving a 2-game suspension for a hit on Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders.
The puck drops at 7:30 P.M. ET and can be seen on Versus.