The Lightning is coming off a big win, a 1-0 overtime victory over the first-place Canadiens in Montreal Tuesday.
But it was a costly one.
Forwards Ondrej Palat and Cedric Paquette, along with veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, were all injured in that game. None of them practiced Wednesday in Boston, and coach Jon Cooper was uncertain on their status for Thursday's game against the Bruins.
"I have no idea," Cooper said. "All three of them could play. All three of them couldn't. It's unfortunate. Because we don't know what to do."
Palat took a shot off his foot in the second period, with Cooper saying x-rays were okay. Paquette and Coburn's injuries were undisclosed. The good news for the Lightning is right wing J.T. Brown, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, is a possibility to return. Defenseman Matt Carle (abdominal surgery) won't play Thursday but could return Saturday.
Got all that? It'll make for interesting decisions whether Tampa Bay has to make a call-up from AHL Syracuse (Jonathan Marchessault, Carter Ashton, Tanner Richard?).
"It's tough when you don't have your whole team, but that's where depth comes in," Cooper said. "(Vladislav Namestnikov) comes in, filled a hole for us we've needed. Now if these guys can't go, we'll need other guys to do that for us. That's what happens this time of year."
This one won't be easy. The Bruins are hot, 5-0-1 in their last six games, still fighting for their playoff lives. And TD Garden has been a house of horrors for Tampa Bay, which hasn't won a regular season game there since Mar 2010. The Bruins have beaten the Lightning nine straight times, dating back to 2012, including a 4-3 win Jan. 13.
"We've come up with some big wins in some tough buildings to play, one being (Montreal) last night," Cooper said. "San Jose being another, Anaheim. Our road record on the big scale doesn't show we've won some big games on the road but we have. Boston is just another one we'll have to overcome at some point. Will it be tomorrow? Will it be the next time we play them? Who knows? But as a group, we're gaining more and more confidence. If we play games like we did last night for a full 60, that'll give us at least a definite chance to win some games on the road."
Captain Steven Stamkos admits it's frustrating to struggle so much in Boston, but feels the team is getting closer, having held two one-goal leads in Jan. 13 4-3 loss, a rough five-minute stretch costing them.
"We're definitely a better team than the last time we were there," Stamkos said. "I think we exorcised some demons on that (West coast) trip. Hopefully we can come in here and do the same. It's been a long time since we won a game here and these guys are playing well. They're fighting for their lives."
The Lightning was encouraged how it played Tuesday, dominating for the most part. Beating Boston is the next step.
"Over the years, how well Boston has done, they're kind of the Big Bad Bruins," Stamkos said. "They've always played well at home. I think teams kind of have a sense heading into that building it was going to be a tough night. A lot of teams have trouble here. Now we've got some guys who have experience and obviously we're on a roll so hopefully we can keep that going."
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