While anticipation -- and concerns -- build in Boston this week regarding the Winter Classic at Fenway Park, the Bruins will try to stay focused on their second meeting with the Atlanta Thrashers in eight days.
Boston's offense awakened during a win over the sputtering Thrashers last week, and the Bruins will hope for a similar result against visiting Atlanta on Wednesday night in their final game before the outdoor contest.
The Bruins are slated to face Philadelphia on Friday at one of baseball's most historic ballparks, but forecasts call for unseasonably warm temperatures and rain that could create problems with the ice surface.
Coach Claude Julien said Boston wasn't distracted Monday night, when it closed a brief road trip with a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, missing out on a fourth consecutive victory.
"It was just us not being engaged early on," Julien told the Bruins' official Web site. "We just kind of lost it. They just took the game over."
There was certainly something out of sync for Boston, especially during a second period when the Lightning held a 24-6 edge in shots.
The Bruins (19-12-7) pulled within one goal during a solid final 20 minutes, but that wasn't enough to satisfy a team that was hoping to match its longest winning streak of the season.
"We played one period and it was almost good enough, but in this league most nights it's not going to be," center Marc Savard said.
Offensive struggles also continue to slow the Bruins, who rank among the bottom three in the NHL with 2.47 goals per game. They have been held to two or fewer goals four times in their last five contests, with the lone exception being a 6-4 home win over Atlanta last Wednesday.
Six players scored in Boston's eighth straight win against the Thrashers, and the Bruins chased Ondrej Pavelec with three goals on eight shots in the first 11 minutes.
Atlanta (18-16-4) has allowed 22 goals during a season-worst five-game losing streak, slipping to the edge of postseason position in the Eastern Conference. With starting goalie Kari Lehtonen still out following back surgery, both Pavelec and Johan Hedberg have struggled lately.
While the team's defense was slightly better in front of Hedberg on Monday night, the Thrashers still lost 3-2 at New Jersey.
"The only people going to help us are ourselves," coach John Anderson said. "We're down and they're going to keep coming at us until we figure out we've got to make simple plays and get the puck out of danger in our zone. We've got to dig down and find out what's in our hearts."
With a goal in each of his last four games, star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has been doing his best to help pull the Thrashers out of their funk. But center Rich Peverley, who had 33 points in his first 33 games, has no points and is a minus-seven during the losing streak.
It's unclear whether Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask will be in net for Boston. Thomas has started four straight games overall and has won his last four starts against the Thrashers, while Rask stopped 32 shots in a 4-3 shootout win at Atlanta on Nov. 19.