Smith starting, Stamkos slumping as Lightning visit Bruins tonight

Stamkos/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning probably finally got into Boston late last night after their 2-1 loss at New Jersey, so I don’t expect them to skate at TD Garden this morning in preparation for their game with the Bruins.

Although we might get a glance at Mike Smith, who is scheduled to start tonight for the first time in the NHL since December. Injuries and then a demotion to the Norfolk (AHL) farm club have kept him out of the Lightning’s crease, and maybe that’s for the better. The last time the Bruins saw Smith, they torched him for five goals on 22 shots, including a Dennis Seidenberg 76-footer that beat Smith while he was out cheating for a dump-in.

“Every goalie has had bad games against teams,” Smith told the St. Pete Times. “You can’t go into a game thinking about the last time you played. I’ve played good hockey since December. You can’t dwell on the past.”

If the goaltending for Tampa Bay will be a question mark tonight, the offense shouldn’t be — that is if Steven Stamkos can get his game back on track. The league’s leading goal-scorer with 41 has just one score in his last nine games and is coming off consecutive games without a shot on net.

“It’s tough,” Stamkos told The Times. “You don’t have that confidence. You’re hesitant. It’s been tough. It’s definitely frustrating.”

The Bruins will try to continue Stamkos’ struggles and exploit Smith’s softness tonight starting at 7 p.m.

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