The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their second win in a row as they beat the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins 3-2 on Wednesday night. Steven Stamkos scored twice and Brayden Point added his 11th goal of the season. Andrei Vasilevskiy continued his stellar play of late stopping 27 of the 29 shots he faced.
It was a solid start for the Lightning as they spent the majority of the first period in the Boston zone. Solid forechecking and puck retrieval kept the Bruins pinned in their own zone for the majority of the time. Their offense was limited to a few rushes and very little sustained pressure against the Lightning.
Unfortunately, one of those rushes paid off for Boston as Brad Marchand sped through the Lightning zone. Erik Cernak forced him wide and around the net. Marchand went for the wraparound and caught a break when Andrei Vasilevskiy was a little off balance as he tried to go post-to-post. The initial shot hit the post, but Vasy was never able to get set and Patrice Bergeron poked home the game opening goal.
The Lightning continued to control play and drew a penalty with about seven minutes left in the period. Despite some solid puck movement and a golden chance in front of the net for Alex Killorn, they weren’t able to put anything past Tuukka Rask.
Boston came out with a little more jump in their skates in the second period and had the Lightning on their heels early on. A questionable knee-on-knee hit by Matt Grzelcyk on Anthony Cirelli led to a four-on-four. Boston absolutely dominated play, but Andrei Vasilevskiy was at his finest as he turned aside shot after shot. David Pastrnak in particular had a couple of golden chances thwarted by the Vezina-winning goaltender.
As the period progressed, the Lightning got back to business and used their power play to even the score. With John Moore in the penalty box for tripping, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov made a great play to win the puck from Zdeno Chara along the boards and he fired a pass to Steven Stamkos who was all by his lonesome in the slot. Stamkos settled the puck and froze Rask with a wrist shot that ricocheted through his legs.
Following the power play goal, the Lightning flooded the Bruins with shots (they ended the period with 14) that forced Rask to use every part of his body, including his facemask, to keep the puck out of the net.
Despite a strong first two periods by the Lightning, the game was tied and very much in doubt as the third period started. Tampa Bay finally took the lead four minutes into the final frame when Brayden Point converted a nifty no-look, backhand pass from Nikita Kucherov on the power play.
Following the goal, Boston pressed play in the Lightning’s zone, but a solid defensive structure and key saves by Vasilevskiy kept the Bruins off the board. The Lightning extended the lead when Steven Stamkos batted down an attempted clearing pass, controlled the puck, used his body to shield off Patrice Bergeron and then rattled a wrist shot off of Rask’s shoulder and into the net.
It was an important goal as Boston struck back 90 seconds later. John Moore found a loose puck among three different Lightning players and chipped it over Vasilevskiy to cut the lead to 3-2.
Boston kept up with the pressure, but never really had a clean chance to equalize the game even with Rask pulled for almost two minutes. Even with a couple of bad clearing passes in the final seconds, the Lightning held on for the win.
This was a solid, playoff-esque win for the Lightning. From the start their passing was a lot crisper then it has been for most of the season. Their coverage in the defensive zone was solid as well. It was as complete of a sixty-minute effort as they’ve displayed all season long.
Patrice Bergeron (Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy): 1-0 Boston
Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov) Power Play: 1-1
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman) Power Play: 2-1 Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos (unassisted): 3-1 Tampa Bay
John Moore (Anders Bjork): 3-2 Tampa Bay
No changes from their win over Florida. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk