For sixty minutes the Tampa Bay Lightning went toe-to-toe with the Boston Bruins, putting forth a much more focused effort than they did in their previous meeting. Unfortunately, a two-goal effort from Taylor Hall prevented the Bolts from ending the Bruins home-winning streak. Brad Marchand added an empty net goal to provide the final 3-1 margin as the Bruins extended their home winning streak to 13 games.
Steven Stamkos scored on the power play to creep one point closer to the magic number of 1000 while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 23 of 25 in the loss. At the opposite end of the ice, Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves against a determined Lightning offense.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare returned to the line-up for Tampa Bay as Coach Cooper went with twelve forwards and six defensemen.
The Lightning would not be the first team on the scoreboard. As gracious guests they allowed the Bruins fans a little excitement (before a lot of them found their seats). The puck was down low behind Vasilevskiy and the teams were battling two a piece for possession. Boston won the battle of the boards and were able to work it back to the point. Brandon Carlo flung the puck at the net and Taylor Hall deflected it past Vasilevskiy.
Taylor Hall (Brandon Carlo, Trent Fredric) 1-0 Bruins
Well, at least the Lightning weren’t going to ruin a good beginning like they did in the last meeting. The good news is that the wheels didn’t come off the wagon, in fact the Lightning played the Bruins pretty closely for most of the frame. Scoring chances were 8-7 in favor of Boston at 5v5 while they also had the slight edge in high-danger chances at 4-3.
The Bolts did pick up a first-period power play (a tripping call that Brad Marchand vociferously disagreed with), but after a couple of early chances, including a heatseeker from Point in the slot, their passing and attentiveness evaporated a bit and Boston finished it off with little problem (and generated a mandatory shorthanded chance that Vasy brushed aside).
A solid road first road period, especially considering the amount of effort the Lightning exerted less than 24 hours prior against Buffalo.
The second period featured a little bit of change. Not the kind that goes “jing-a-ling-a-ling” according to the Georgia Satellites, but of the line variety. In an effort to free up some forwards (i.e. get them away from the pesky defensive skills of Patrice Bergeron) Coach Cooper flip-flopped Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. Did it work in regards to generating a 5v5 goal? No, but it was still a solid period for the Lightning.
Unlike the middle twenty minutes a week ago, Tampa Bay was successful in bottling up the Bruins attack and keeping them off of the scoreboard. In fact, they tamped down the offense for most of the period, outside of a shift or two with just under four minutes to go in the period.
The Lightning built on shift after shift, using their sticks and some solid positioning to break up rushes before they hit the danger points and forced the Bruins to work their way out of the zone instead of letting them skate unencumbered. The scoring chances leaned in favor of the Lightning at 5v5 as they edged the Bruins 8-5, despite Boston getting the lone high-danger one. Tampa Bay did generate 16 shot attempts at even strength with 8 of them making their way on Jeremy Swayman.
Remember the preview from this morning where it was mentioned that the Lightning were unlikely to enjoy the power play success they had against Buffalo? Well, late in the period they did find that elusive game-tying goal as the Bruins did something you should never do on the penalty kill - they gave Nikita Kucherov a yawning chasm of a cross-ice passing lane to Steven Stamkos. The Captain swatted it home for his 13th goal of the season and 999th point in his career.
Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point) Power Play, 1-1
The Lightning had made it through 40 minutes without committing any infractions that the officials noticed. They would not make it through 60 as Nick Perbix tripped up David Pastrnak just over a minute into the period.
It was a fairly solid effort to begin the shorthanded defense as the the road team took away the middle of the ice with aggressive reads. Brandon Hagel was especially valiant in his efforts, as he blocked a couple of shots, generated a shorthanded breakaway, and then almost took one off the face.
In the end it was for naught as the Bruins were able to pull Vasilevskiy slightly out of position. Nick Foligno tried to bank it off of the back of the goaltender’s leg, but the pass actually slipped under Vasy and right to Taylor Hall who wasted not a second in flicking it into the net for the 2-1 lead.
Taylor Hall (Nick Foligno, Hampus Lindholm) Power Play, 2-1 Bruins
Perhaps the legs started to get a little heavy for the Lightning as the Bruins seemed to have the better run of play following the goal. All-in-all it was rather low event hockey as both teams played it rather close to the chest.
With about four minutes to go, Bergeron rang a rebound attempt off the crossbar and that opened the game a bit. On the counter-rush Corey Perry snapped a shot that Swayman padded away at full stretch. The Bruins’ netminder was then called upon again for stops against Vlad Namestnikov and Alex Killorn. Back to the other end of the ice where Pavel Zacha had a chance to ice the game but whiffed on a wide-open net.
Eventually the time would come when Coach Cooper called Vasilevskiy to the bench for the extra skater. There would be no magic with the empty net on this night and Brad Marchand, with an assist from David Krejci, ended the comeback hopes with his 7th goal of the season.
It was a solid effort by the Lightning, unfortunately it came up a little short. They will have tomorrow off before ending their road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.