There’s a whole lot at stake Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Boston Bruins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning in a battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Lightning effectively have sat atop the standings from wire to wire this season, but the surging Bruins can shake things up with a win over their division rival.
Boston has had Tampa Bay’s number this season, claiming victories in each of the previous two matchups, including a road win March 17. The Bolts also enter the contest reeling, having lost each of their last two games.
As for the lineups, the Bruins are expected to receive a major lift in the form of David Backes, who is expected to return after sustaining a laceration on his right leg that required 18 stitches in the last game against Tampa Bay. Tuukka Rask is set to start in between the pipes for Boston.
Here are the projected lines and defensive pairings for Thursday’s Bruins-Lightning game:
BOSTON BRUINS (47-17-11)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Ryan Donato — David Krejci — Brian Gionta
Danton Heinen — Riley Nash — David Backes
Tim Schaller — Noel Acciari — Tommy Wingels
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Kevan Miller
Nick Holden — Adam McQuaid
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (51-21-4)
J.T. Miller — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Ondrej Palat
Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — Cory Conacher
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh — Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn — Mikhail Sergachev
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports