The Boston Bruins can take a huge step toward winning the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed with a win Tuesday night against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
The B’s have beaten the Bolts in each of their three meetings this season, and the regular-season series ends Tuesday.
Boston enters this showdown two points ahead of Tampa Bay with a game in hand. If the B’s win in regulation, the best the Lightning can do is tie the Bruins in the final standings.
Rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy is slated to return to the lineup after missing more than a month with an MCL injury. He last played March 3 versus the Montreal Canadiens. He’ll be reunited with Zdeno Chara on the Bruins’ top defense pairing.
Lightning captain and No. 1 center Steven Stamkos won’t play because of a lower body injury.
Both teams are expected to start their No. 1 goalie, which means Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy should be between the pipes.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (49-17-12)
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk–David Krejci–Ryan Donato
Danton Heinen–David Backes–Noel Acciari
Tim Schaller–Colby Cave–Brian Gionta
Zdeno Chara–Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug–Nick Holden
Matt Grzelcyk–Kevan Miller
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (52-23-4)
Ondrej Palat–Brayden Point–Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Miller–Tyler Johnson–Cory Conacher
Yanni Gourde–Anthony Cirelli–Alex Killorn
Chris Kunitz–Cedric Paquette–Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman–Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh–Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn–Mikhail Sergachev
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports