Tampa Bay Lightning Game 74: at the Boston Bruins

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins 5-3.

At the end of the game on the game thread, everyone was stunned. The previous game that they’d won, everyone was giddy – it was difficult to leave the fun. This game, tho, we were all trying to find things to talk about the game, but were having problems.

You see, it all finally came crashing down on us that the Lightning, if they keep this up, could actually squeak into playoffs.

It’s strange that it took beating #8 Boston in Boston for the idea to actually have some legitimacy. True, the Lightning never win in Boston. Also true is the fact that Boston is still six points ahead of Tampa Bay. They are by no means a shoe-in, but a little bit of luck and if the players are believing in themselves and in their teammates, they could end up where they want to be – the playoffs.

The stories of this game were Steven Stamkos, Paul Szczechura, Antero Niittymaki, and injuries.

Stamkos scored his 44th and 45th goals on the season. That ties him with the league goal scoring leaders, Sidney Crosby & Alex Ovechkin. Stamkos may be able to win the Richard Trophy this year. That’s quite a feat, considering that he’s on a team that may not make it into playoffs.

But we can’t forget Szczechura, either. He’s been up and down all season between AHL Norfolk and Tampa, so his goal scoring totals aren’t of Stamkos’s proportions, but he still scored two goals himself. It may have been only his 4th and 5th in the NHL this season, but I think that deserves some recognition as well.

The player of the night, however, was easily Niittymaki. He faced 19 shots in the first period – and again in the third period. He was a wall. Boston threw a total of 50 shots on him, and he only allowed three goals. That’s pretty impressive.

For most of the third period, the Lightning were using only four defensemen instead of six. Kurtis Foster and David Hale left the game due to injuries. Steven Downie also left after a knee-on-knee hit and didn’t return. So instead of the full 20-man roster on the ice, they were using 17 players for the most of the final period.

The next game is Saturday, 27 March, at the Buffalo Sabres. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. If you’re home, turn on the tv, fire up the laptop, and join us on the game thread. These next eight games could be a wild ride – and I’m not talking about Minnesota, either.

Lightning vs Bruins coverage [SB Nation]

Stanley Cup of Chowder [SB Nation Boston Bruins site]

Lightning vs Bruins recap [TSN]

Lightning vs Bruins boxscore [TSN]