David Pastrnak’s hat trick lifted the Boston Bruins over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 Thursday night. The win puts the Bruins ahead of the Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings, with Boston in third behind Toronto with 85 points and the Lightning in fourth with 84 points.
Erik Haula had three assists for Boston (40-19-5). Brandon Hagel, Steven Stamkos replied for Tampa (39-18-6). Jeremy Swayman made 22 saves for the Bruins, while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 for the Lightning.
Right off the bat the Lightning killed a huge double-minor high sticking penalty to Erik Cernak. Bruins never settled the play on the man advantage to force a solid opportunity though.
An uneventful start had Bruins only muster a single shot in the first half of the inaugural period, with Lightning just four.
A Bruins player fell on Vasilevskiy and no Tampa player even gave him a look. Lightning never showed signs of life, except for a fine penalty kill.
“We worked on it yesterday,” said forward Ondrej Palat about their penalty killing. “It was a good PK by us, but we have to stay out of the box.”
The home team changed the tide in the latter half with 11 shots. Jack Studnicka had the best scoring chance yet still missed the net.
Bolts penalty kill continued to look strong, the Bolts took five penalties in the game and successfully killed them all.
Newcomer Hagel scored a one-timer down a man from a terrific feed from Palat. Lightning broke the scoreless draw to go up 1-0 (7:11).
The Bruins’ fourth line put some pressure on after, but the Big Cat robbed Curtis Lazar in front of the net.
Pastrnak leveled the score when he finished off with a backhand on a breakaway, an excellent board pass by Erik Haula from their own end set it up. The pass was made to perfection around defenseman Ryan McDonagh, 1-1 (9:55).
Bruins controlled the middle frame, with Trent Frederic almost scoring twice. The second one hitting the post passed a stretched out Vasilevskiy from some nifty tic-tac-toe passing.
A late 4-on-3 man opportunity emerged, after a trip to Pastrnak but Lightning could not get much going.
After 40 minutes Lightning looked extremely flat, Vasilevskiy and the posts kept them knotted 1-1.
Yup. They need to be ton better, lucky to be tied. pic.twitter.com/Pus96lzu1D— Peter Bojarinov (@PBojarinov) March 25, 2022
Lightning woke from their 40-minute slumber for the final period.
Stamkos in the slot fired one past Swayman to retake the lead in the final regulation frame, 2-1 (3:51). Lightning had the puck bounce off a few players before it landed on the captain’s stick.
Ryan McDonagh blocked a shot mid period, and immediately went down the tunnel.
Pastrnak reverse spun and backhanded the puck by Vasilevskiy to tie up the game again, 2-2 (8:17).
The offensive Czech was able to squeeze the puck past the Conn Smythe goaltender (lined up against the post) for his second of the night.
Both teams fought for every inch with the final third playoff spot of the division on the line.
Pastrnak wristed the puck for a goal yet again as he was open right to the past Vasilevskiy. The hats littered the ice after the Bolts and Cirelli were unable to get the rubber out of their zone, only for Haula to keep it in. 3-2 (15:50).
With the net empty the Lightning had no real chance to tie up the game in the final minute as the Bruins closed things down.
Game over. Bolts have lost six of the last eight games.
What should Lightning change to the lineup to stop the losing streak?
This poll is closed
Start the 1st period with some energy
Sit Erik Cernak
Wake up Kucherov and Point
Peter’s 3 Charged Rocks and 3 Stars:
- Erik Cernak, (-2, 3 minor penalties)
- Brayden Point, (1 shot)
- Alex Killorn. (-1, no shots)
Stars: (only 1 deserved a star)
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, (36 saves)
Andrei Vasilevskiy made his 50th start of the season. Stamkos ended a season-long 8-game goal drought. Point had an assist in his 400th career NHL game. Point and Kucherov were back on the first line together for the first time since March 12th, a loss in Edmonton. Lindholm picked up his first Bruins point, and debut after being acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Bergeron missed his fourth straight game. The Bruins defeated the Bolts in Tampa Bay in their last meeting on January 8th, 5-2.