Though the Lightning have been hitting a stride recently, they certainly had to be concerned about this one. History hasn't exactly been on the side of Tampa Bay through the years when playing the Bruins - before the last road win for the Bolts over Boston on Oct. 12, 2015, they had lost their previous 10 in Boston.
Add to it the fact that the Bruins had finally hit a stride of their own recently - the divisional rivals were tied at 74 points going into the matchup - and you have an immense challenge.
The score doesn't represent it, but there was no shortage of challenges during the game. The Bolts had to play without the services of Cedric Paquette for most of the first period after getting hit by Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo. The hit, in which Rinaldo seemed to make contact with Paquette's head, was the subject of scrutiny by fans. It could be the subject of a hearing from the Department of Player Safety. It is also notable that Rinaldo was put on waivers yesterday. We will find out at noon if he clears.
Then, with about three minutes left in the game, there was a scary moment for everyone watching when Tyler Johnson was felled by a puck to the face. Head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan was instantly called out to the ice and Johnson remained out for the game. On a positive note, head coach Jon Cooper told the media after the game that Johnson would be fine. We will see if he plays tonight in Toronto.
Beyond those two low spots, there was a lot that the coaching staff can look at as positives to build on for the remainder of the season. The defense absolutely shut down Boston's potent offense, the special teams play was almost perfect - 2 for 3 on the power play and six penalty kills - and there were many odd-man rushes for the Lightning.
Boston got on the board first, though, scoring at 6:01 from a faceoff play. Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller eventually got ahold of the puck and slipped the puck past a screened Ben Bishop. The assists went to Joonas Kemppainen and Landon Ferraro.
The Lightning responded five minutes later with a power play goal - the power play resulting from the hit to Cedric Paquette. Anton Stralman carried the puck up the center into the offensive zone and protected it with his body. Then, he passed it over to Alex Killorn, who fired it from the left circle over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask at 11:19. The secondary assist went to Ryan Callahan.
Just about three minutes later, the Bolts took their first lead of the night, pouncing on a loose puck after a Bruins defenseman lost his footing at the blue line. Ryan Callahan registered his first of two goals on the night at 14:39 after making a few passes back and forth in front of Rask.
The Killorn-Stamkos-Callahan line almost added another Lightning goal in the first period with some crisp passing, but Rask was there to make the save and the Bolts went to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The second period saw a flurry of penalties - some that could be deemed questionable - and more dominant play by the Bolts. Ryan Callahan tallied his second goal of the night after tipping a shot from Steven Stamkos. The secondary assist on the goal, which came on the power play at 8:18, was awarded to Anton Stralman.
One notable penalty during the third period was a hooking call on Brad Marchand, which resulted in a penalty shot being awarded to Steven Stamkos. Stamkos carried the puck in on the attempt and, after getting Tuukka Rask to commit to diving out, he tapped it into the back of the net to put the Lightning up 4-1.
The third period went scoreless, as the Lightning bench tried to conserve some energy for its game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. We did, however, see Tyler Johnson head to the locker room after a gruesome facial injury in which he inadvertently got hit with a puck. Judging by the chatter after the game, it seems like Johnson will be just fine. Check back for more news regarding his condition.
Puck drop tonight will be at 7:30 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
- This was the first time in franchise history that the Lightning have won consecutive games on the road in Boston.
- Killorn, Stamkos and Callahan combined for seven points.
- Bishop stopped 32 of 33 shots.
- Anton Stralman led all skaters with 23:44 of ice time. Vladislav Namestnikov had the least time for the Lightning, registering only 8:43.
- The Bruins entered the game with the league's best home power play percentage. The Lightning went 6/6 on the penalty kill.
- The Bolts blocked 19 shots.
- Erik Condra and Matt Taormina were the scratches for the Lightning.