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NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Boston Bruins preview

The Boston Bruins will aim to remain unbeaten on home ice as they host perennial east coast powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

With a 3-2 overtime victory over Carolina Hurricanes on Thanksgiving Friday, the Bruins set an NHL record of 12 straight wins at home to begin an NHL season (12-0-0).   

Boston's red-hot home form has helped them to an 18-3-0 record and .857 points-percentage which tops the Atlantic Division and all NHL standings.   

The Lightning meanwhile have struggled to shrug off the disappointment of losing in last season's Stanley Cup Final to the Colorado Avalanche which ended their bid for an historic treble going 13-7-1 (.643) which ranks third in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the full standings.

What: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Boston Bruins

Where: TD Garden, Boston 

When: 19:05 ET, Tuesday 29th November, 2022

How to watch: NESN

Odds: TB Lightning +140, BOS Bruins -160

Record breakers

Boston entered the fixture against the Hurricanes tied with the 2021/22 Florida Panthers and 1963/64 Chicago Blackhawks for the best home win streak to start a campaign in NHL history at 11-0-0. 

Despite going 2-0 down, the Bruins came back to win their 12th straight at TD Garden in overtime thanks to a David Pastrnak strike which was his team leading 14th goal and 32nd point of the season (in 21 games).  

26-year-old Pastrnak sits fourth in the league for goals and fifth for points. He is 20/1 to win the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player come season end. 

Boston have only trailed three times over their 12 straight home wins, and dating back to last season's playoffs are 19-0-0 at TD Garden which marks the sixth time a team has won as many consecutively at home.  

Tampa Bay are 5-4-0 on the road this season and to stand any chance in Boston, will need to re-discover the form which has seen them win the Eastern Conference and reach the Stanley Cup Finals three times in a row over the past three seasons, winning twice.  

Boston are -160 to extend their home run while Tampa Bay are +140 to be the first team victorious at TD Garden this season.  

Vasilevskiy slow start

Lightning's superstar netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy has had an uncharacteristic slow start to the season. 

Through 15 games, the 28-year-old has a .905 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against-average (GAA) and has given up three or more goals in ten of those 15 games. This includes against the Bruins on 23rd November, when he surrendered five goals on 29 shots at Tampa's Amelie Arena.  

Vasilevskiy's save percentage and GAA is currently the lowest of his eight-year NHL career, but history shows the bigger the moment, the better he performs and Wednesday's game is the perfect opportunity for he and the Lighting to again prove critics wrong and state their continued claim as top dog in the Eastern Conference.

Boston are -220 favourites to top the Atlantic Division and +325 to win the Eastern Conference. The Lightning are to +650 to catch them and win the Atlantic and +600 to earn a fourth Eastern Conference title in a row. 

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Landmark for Bergeron

In Boston's 5-3 victory in the first meeting of the two teams, Captain Patrice Bergeron registered his 1,000th career point, becoming the 94th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.  

The 37-year-old, in his 19th season with the team is second for points with 19 (nine goals, ten assists). 

Now with 1,001 points (409 goals, 592 assists) in 1,237 regular season games, Bergeron is sure to play an important role against the Lightning, not least in the face-off circle. 

A five-time Frank J. Selke trophy winner, given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game, Bergeron has a 61.43 face-off winning percentage, helping the Bruins to a 56.2% team record which ranks 2nd of all teams.  

To the contrary, the Lightning have struggled winning just 47.9% of face-offs which is 23rd in the league and unless there is a vast improvement may prove costly on the night.  

Kucherov sparks Lightning

29-year-old Nikita Kucherov has been a particular bright spark for the Lightning and will be heavily relied upon to be a difference maker against the Bruins.  

In 21 games, the 29-year-old has amassed 34 points which ranks third in the league. His 24 assists is the most by any player and he is 18/1 to win the Hart Trophy which would be his second after scooping the award in 2018/19.  

Steven Stamkos (26 points; 12 goals, 14 assists), Brayden Point (21 points; 10 goals, 13 assists) and defenceman Mikhail Sergachev (22 points; four goals, 18 assists) are also playing above a point-per-game level.   

Boston confident

Tampa's depth won't frighten the Bruins who have five players with more than a point-per-game and ten players with ten or more points (Lightning have eight). 

Boston have enjoyed scoring throughout their forward lines and from their defence all season long with the return of David Krejci (eight goals, nine assists) particular important and Hampus Lindholm (four goals, 14 assists) starring on defence.  

Netminder Linus Ullmark has also been outstanding with a 13-1-0 record and an NHL best 93.5 save percentage and 2.00 GAA and if recovered from the injury which forced him to leave the Hurricanes game, will relish the opportunity to go up against Vasilevskiy. 

If he's not ready, the Bruins have the luxury of Jeremy Swayman as back-up who is 4-2-0 with a .890 save percentage and 2.92 GAA. 

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