The Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to stay positive in the midst of their fifth three-game losing streak of the season.
The Lightning (43-20-7, 93 points) will attempt to end the skid Friday night when they host the rival Boston Bruins (44-21-5, 93 points).
The winner will assume sole possession of third place in the Atlantic Division.
“It feels like every mistake right now is kind of ending up in the back of our net, so it’s tough not to get frustrated,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said following his team’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
“We just have to continue to work our way through it. We have a lot of veteran leadership on this team that we know we can work our way out of it.”
Stamkos set up Nicholas Paul late in the first period to extend his point streak to eight games (five goals, eight assists).
Stamkos, who leads the team in goals (32) and points (79), has tallied twice in three meetings with Boston this season. He has 25 goals and 36 points in 44 career encounters against the Bruins.
Former Hart Trophy recipient Nikita Kucherov scored a goal in his third consecutive contest Wednesday to extend his season-high point streak to six games (three goals, eight assists). He had an assist in the Lightning’s 3-2 loss in Boston on March 24.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper is keeping a stiff upper lip about his team’s recent struggles.
“Right now, we’re just missing in some areas,” Cooper said. “The boys, they battled … there wasn’t quit in them; we just fell one short.”
Falling short hasn’t been a common occurrence for Boston, which enjoyed a sterling 17-3-1 stretch before losing 5-3 in Detroit on Tuesday.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy took issue with a punchless power play that has failed on all nine of its opportunities over the past two games, including an 0-for-4 effort vs. the Red Wings. And he wasn’t willing to use the absence of star David Pastrnak (undisclosed) as an excuse.
“We were static. Really, really static lately, even with (Pastrnak). It’s a problem,” Cassidy said. “Our power play used to snap it around. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s too much, hold it, look, look, look. We’ve got to start moving the puck to open up some of those plays we typically make.”
Pastrnak has five of his team-leading 38 goals against the Lightning this season. He scored two in a 5-2 romp in Tampa Bay on Jan. 8 before notching his 12th career hat trick on March 24.
Captain Patrice Bergeron collected a goal and an assist Tuesday to boost his point total to 12 (three goals, nine assists) in his past nine games.
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who leads the team with 42 assists, has set up 10 goals during his six-game assist streak. He began that run after being held off the scoresheet vs. Tampa Bay on March 24.
Jake DeBrusk also was held without a point in that contest. He responded with six goals and two assists during a five-game point streak before being held in check by the Red Wings on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media