The Boston Bruins are one point away from completing their ascent to the top of the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins knocked off the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 on Tuesday to move into a tie with Tampa Bay for the top spot in the division. The Lightning are idle Thursday night, so Boston can overtake them with a win or overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden.
Carolina, of course, is the former home of Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles, who was dealt to Boston on Feb. 29 ahead of the NHL trade deadline. He’ll get the chance to see his former team for the first time after the league ruled not to discipline him Thursday for a hit on Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.
The Bruins still will be without defenseman Kevan Miller, who participated in the team’s morning skate Thursday but is a scratch due to an upper body injury. Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start in net after backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson notched 42 saves Tuesday in an impressive shutout of Tampa Bay.
The line combinations for both squads won’t be clear until puck drop, but Boston’s projected line pairings have head coach Claude Julien bumping left wing Loui Eriksson up to the second line and dropping Matt Beleskey onto the third line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes.
Here’s a look at the projected lineups, which are subject to change:
BOSTON BRUINS (38-23-7)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro — Noel Acciari — Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara — John-Michael Liles
Joe Morrow — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
CAROLINA HURRICANES (30-26-11)
Joakim Nordstrom — Jordan Staal — Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner — Victor Rask — Phillip Di Giuseppe
Nathan Gerbe — Riley Nash — Chris Terry
Brendan Woods — Jay McClement — Brad Malone
Jaccob Slavin — Ron Hainsey
Noah Hanifin — Brett Pesce
Michal Jordan — Ryan Murphy
Thumbnail photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (37) and Carolina Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm (16) face off at PNC Arena. The Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.
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