Tampa Bay is set to battle Boston for third place in the Atlantic League

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have a chance to jump back into third place in the Atlantic Division when they face the Boston Bruins tonight at 7 p.m. at AMALIE Arena. Tonight will be the third game in a row that Lightning will face an Eastern Conference opponent who is currently sitting in a playoff position.

defense bolts Ryan McDonagh He will miss his eighth game in a row tonight, but Tampa Bay coach John Cooper “hopes” McDonagh will return to the line-up on Sunday against Buffalo.

After falling in Montreal, Toronto and Washington over the past six days, the Lightning will be looking to avoid losing their fourth game in a row, something they haven’t done since February 2020. Tampa Bay will face a tough opponent in the Bruins, who have won 10 of their last 13 games on goal difference plus to 15 goals during that period. Both teams enter tonight’s competition with 93 points in 70 games, and the Bruins currently hold the tiebreak with a 35-32 advantage in organizational wins.

Video: John Cooper | Pre-match 4.8.22

“Teams like the Boston Bruins we play tonight are the ones that get you the Stanley Cups,” Cooper said. “I think in the last three years we’ve been representatives of the Eastern Conference. I love fights with the Bruins because we basically had the same core and it’s just fun games to be a part of.”

The two teams last met just 15 days ago at TD Garden in Boston, where the Bruins beat Lightning 3-2 behind a hat-trick from David Pastrnak. The first game in Boston saw the Lightning win 3-2 with overtime Andrei Vasilevsky Made 37 out of 39 saves and Stephen Stamkos The winner hooked OT 1:31 in the overtime frame. The Boston team claimed their only game in Tampa on January 8 with a 5-2 victory. Tonight marks the final game of the season between two teams who could see each other again at some point in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

“That would be fine,” Cooper said. “They’re always good. Matches against the Bruins are always fun games to get involved in, but hard to get involved in.”

One shareholder that Lightning will lean against Boston is the acquisition of Deadline Trade, Nick Paul. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound striker has scored five points (1G, 4A) over his last four games and is looking to settle into his role with Tampa Bay.

“I knew what my role was to do, and I was doing it to the best of my abilities,” Paul explained on Friday morning. “Now that the opportunities are there and my work ethic is there, I can show that I am big and hard working, but I also have some skill.

“I’ve had some really good chemistry with the guys I’ve been with – both on and off the ice. Sometimes bounces go your way, and that seems to happen now, so I’m just looking forward to continuing.”

A fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft entry, Paul spent his first seven years in the NHL playing for the Ottawa Senators organization. He scored 18 points (11G, 7A) in 59 games with the Senators this season before joining Tampa Bay, already earning six points (2G, 4A) in his first nine playoffs.

Video: Nick Paul | Pre-match 4.8.22

“You don’t really know a player until you get it,” Cooper said. “I’ve known Nick Paul because we play on them four times a year, but he didn’t jump off the page until we got him. Then I sit here thinking ‘Wow, he’s a little gem, this one’s right here.'” ”

“He’s big, strong and skillful. His skate probably isn’t the prettiest, but he can still go from A to B. He looks guys in the eye when you enter a corner. He’s more skill than I thought, and I’ve always thought he’s skillful. He’s been a great addition to us. The more you get to know him, the more you appreciate him.”

The feeling of appreciation seems mutual between the two parties, as Paul actually grew to enjoy playing in the system used by the Tampa Bay coaching staff. Lightning will build on that volume and skill in the forward check and beyond as the playoffs approach each day.

“I absolutely love the game,” Paul said. “Aggressive screening is definitely my alley. I like doing a lot of hockey readings when it comes to interceptions and reading plays and jumping early. The system gives me the ability to do that. I think the system definitely plays towards my hockey type and my type of reading, so it was nice.”

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