ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Bruins get one last look at the Lightning — a potential second-round foe — before turning all attention to the postseason.
Neither team has anything to play for in a technical sense before starting their respective first round series. The Bruins know they have the Leafs to contend with, while the top-seeded Lightning still have a few possibilities.
If both the Bruins and Tampa Bay, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference standings, do square off in the second round, it might be without ever getting a real gauge of how they match up.
The first time the teams played in December was while the Bruins were at the peak of their injury issues, with several starters out of the lineup; it was a close defeat in the middle of a three-game losing streak.
The next time, the Bruins handled the Lightning easily while the Tampa club was in the midst of a three-games-in-four nights stretch. Hardly a baromter of how they match up.
Lastly, they faced off in Tampa Bay, where the Lightning gave the Bruins arguably their toughest loss of the season, scoring with 52 seconds remaining in regulation after the B’s held a two-goal advantage in the third period. The Bruins played the majority of that game with five defensemen, two of them being Steven Kampfer and Connor Clifton, neither of whom will see postseason ice if everything goes well.
In their fourth meeting, the Bruins are likely to rest veterans who played Thursday night in Minnesota, while those who sat out are set to return. Against the Maple Leafs on Thursday night, the Lightning played mostly their entire lineup, but even if they do the same Saturday, it won’t be the type of game where they go all-out like in a game that carried much weight.
Both have first-round series to deal with before even thinking of each other in any competitive form again. That mean’s Saturday’s contest won’t give any indication of how a possible second-round series would look.
As purely a final tuneup for the Bruins, there’s other things to worry about. Still, it’s always interesting to think ahead.
“We definitely won’t take it easy,” David Pastrnak said. “I think it’s all about us. We need to focus on our game and how we play.”
Miller avoids scare
Kevan Miller left in the second period Thursday against the Wild after he took an awkward slide into the boards, only to return for a short time later in the frame. He’s projected to play against Tampa.
“(It) is great, because it’s not long term,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy noted. “You never know when you go into the boards like that, especially the luck he’s had this year.”
Senyshyn pots empty netter
Zach Senyshyn will remember his first career NHL goal forever, even though it may not have gone as he expected.
“Oh, top shelf, dangled a couple guys before it,” he said after the game, in which he capped the 3-0 victory with an empty-net tally. “… You put the puck in the net in the National Hockey League, you’re never going to forget it.”