Brad Marchand to hit milestone as Bruins battle Lightning

Boston captain Brad Marchand is set to play in his 1,000th NHL game when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.Marchand is Boston's second-leading scorer with 25 goals -- reachin

Brad Marchand to hit milestone as Bruins battle Lightning

Boston captain Brad Marchand is set to play in his 1,000th NHL game when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Marchand is Boston’s second-leading scorer with 25 goals — reaching that mark for the 10th time in his career — and 48 points, trailing only David Pastrnak for tops on the team in both categories. The 15-year veteran has six goals in the last eight games.

“It would be tough to believe” reaching 1,000 career games when he first joined the Bruins in 2009-10, Marchand said. “As a young player, you don’t really think that far ahead. The only thing you’re worried about is trying to get here. Once you play, you realize how tough it is to stay here. … It’s very special. Obviously, it doesn’t happen often, but I really try not to think about it.”

Though Boston holds a three-point lead atop the Eastern Conference, coach Jim Montgomery has been left searching for answers following lackluster efforts in two of the last three games.

At the outset of a seven-game homestand, the Bruins have lost to Calgary and Washington by a combined 7-1 on each end of a 4-0 shutout win over NHL-leading Vancouver.

“If I did (have answers), I would have given them to (the players). But it’s not acceptable, and we’re not going to accept it,” Montgomery said. “We will change or things will change. … That’s what it boils down to.”

The 4-0 loss to Washington on Saturday marked Boston’s first time being shut out all season. Top center Charlie Coyle had his career-high 10-game point scoring streak snapped.

With rookie forward Matt Poitras out following shoulder surgery, the Bruins called upon Anthony Richard — whose 19 goals lead Providence of the American Hockey League — as a reinforcement. He recorded one shot on goal across 10:38 of ice time in his Bruins debut on Saturday.

“I thought (Richard) was one of the players that had jump, had tenacity on pucks,” Montgomery said.

The Lightning currently hold the third and final Atlantic Division playoff spot, having snapped a two-game skid with a 4-2 win on Saturday in Columbus. The win was their first following the All-Star break but ninth in a 12-game span.

“You can pick apart any game you want, but the bottom line is we needed these points,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We got them and let’s move on.”

Brandon Hagel had a goal and two assists to extend his points streak to six games, while Nikita Kucherov has points in eight straight and leads the NHL with 89 on the season.

The Tampa Bay defense received a boost with the return of Haydn Fleury, who missed the previous 14 games to Saturday with a hand injury. He had a plus-1 rating and three blocks in 22:07 of ice time.

Fellow blueliners Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak also both returned to the lineup following the All-Star break, but Sergachev had successful surgery after breaking his tibia and fibula in his first game back last Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

“I think when you start using that as an excuse, it’s going to be trouble for you. And the group in here has never done that,” Cooper said. “Maybe there’s a pity party that happens for a night or so. But it’s just not been in our DNA.”

Given Tampa Bay’s current standing, it’s getting late in the season early.

“I think the playoffs kind of start now for us,” Hagel said.

The Bruins and Lightning have split two meetings this season. Trent Frederic scored two goals in Boston’s 7-3 home win on Jan. 6. Tampa Bay beat visiting Boston 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 20, with Hagel scoring the winning goal.