By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The NHL’s best team is back at home after going undefeated on a three-game road trip that saw wins over the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers. Boston holds a nine-point lead over the Lightning for the top position in the Atlantic Division with a 43-13-12 record with just over a month left of hockey to play. On Thursday, the Bruins took a tight 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in overtime to extend their current winning streak to four games.
Tampa Bay lost to the Bruins earlier in the week, but enter tonight’s game following a convincing 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night as well. The Lightning have not been excellent as of late, going 5-5-0 in their last ten games played and with the loss of superstar Steven Stamkos for the remainder of the regular season and potentially somewhat into the postseason, wins are difficult to come by. Tampa is second in the Atlantic Division with a 42-20-5 record.
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Home: Boston Bruins (43-13-12)
Away: Tampa Bay Lightning (42-20-5)
Bruins’ Last Game: 2-1 OT win vs FLA
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo (upper-body) will not play tonight after taking an elbow to the face from Florida Panthers forward Evgeni Dadonov. John Moore takes his spot alongside Torey Krug on the defensive pairing. Tuukka Rask gets the start in goal.
Early in the game, the Bruins get some good offensive pressure and a couple decent chances from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak who connected on a long pass for a 1-on-1 play for Pastrnak against Kevin Shattenkirk but the shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy. Roughly five minutes into the game, the Lightning had four recorded blocked shots.
5:01 into the game, Barclay Goodrow lands his elbow to the head of Ondrej Kase and the Bruins will go to their first power-play of the game. Only six seconds onto the man-advantage, however, Anthony Cirelli takes the puck and races down the ice to snipe one blocker side past Rask and the Lightning take a 1-0 lead off a shorthanded goal.
One-minute-and-two-seconds later, Mihkail Sergachev is fed the puck in the slot and wrists one past Rask again to give Tampa Bay a two-goal lead off two shorthanded goals. Not a good start for the Bruins who just seem to be lacking on the smaller details of their game early on.
Not long later, Chris Wagner lands a hard hit on Mikael Sergachev behind the Bruins net and then proceeds to drop the gloves with Goodrow for the hit on Kase. Both Wagner and Goodrow get offsetting unsportsmanlike conducts for dropping the gloves and it heads to four-on-four. As soon as the penalties end, Wagner and Goodrow meet at center ice to drop the mitts and Wagner’s fight brings some much-needed life back into the TD Garden.
Another good span in the offensive zone for the Bruins from the Kuraly-Coyle-DeBrusk third line as Kuraly came from behind the Tampa Bay net to nearly feed DeBrusk in the slot. Just moments before that, Charlie Coyle’s one-timer was stopped by Vasilevskiy. During the zone time, Cedric Paquette takes a hooking minor and Boston goes to the power-play again. A bit of a better man-advantage this time around, but nearly all of Boston’s shot attempts were blocked before they even got close to Vasilevskiy. Back to even-strength.
Bruins got a few high-volume shots towards the Lightning net in the time after the pair of Tampa goals but failed to score on any of them. With 45.7 seconds left to tick away in the frame, Jeremy Lauzon gets whistled down on an interference minor and Boston goes to the penalty-kill. Period ends, Lightning will have 1:15 of power-play time to begin the second.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 14 TBL: 5
Score: 2-0 Lightning – Goals: Cirelli (16) SHG Unassisted; Sergachev (10) SHG Assists: Gourde (18)
Down two goals, the Bruins need some spark offensively to cut into Tampa’s lead but early on, Zach Bogosian takes the puck into Boston’s zone and around the net before finding Cedric Paquette for a tap-in goal and a 3-0 lead for the Bolts. Poor defense for the B’s here and now have a tough three-goal deficit to come back from.
Not long after the goal, Bruins forward Brett Ritchie lays a big hit on Brayden Point in the corner of the boards which brings some noise to the Bruins crowd. Ritchie has not been afraid to use the body since his arrival to Boston on Trade Deadline day. That physicality will likely be huge in the postseason if it continues.
Near the end of the period, David Pastrnak takes a shot on Vasilevskiy, leading to a potential Marchand rebound attempt. Marchand took another clean swipe at the puck before getting pushed by Cirelli and then Marchand gets attacked by numerous Lightning players along the boards, but somehow Marchand and Cirelli get matching minors.
On the 4-on-4 session, Jake DeBrusk does a fantastic job driving hard to the net, allowing Charlie McAvoy to snap a gorgeous shot past Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to only one goal. This goal does not happen if DeBrusk doesn’t stay strong on the net drive to make the defense stay honest and providing a small screen for the McAvoy shot. 3-1.
All of a sudden, with the home Boston crowd roaring, the Bruins keep coming back with tons of pressure on the Tampa defense. Unlike the beginning stages of the second period, the Bruins have their skating legs and are hard on the board battles. A net-front battle eventually leads to Sean Kuraly tapping in what looks to be a goal, but it is waived off on the ice. As the play goes back the other way, the siren sounds meaning Toronto likely saw a goal and after review, it became apparent that Kuraly scored and now it is a 3-2 game.
Then, all hell breaks loose. The Bruins and Lightning engage in a line brawl with multiple fights breaking out and a ton of pushing and shoving. At the end of it all, here are all the penalties including some at the horn:
BOS F Sean Kuraly – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Blake Coleman – 10-minute misconduct
BOS F Brett Ritchie – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Erik Cernak – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Patrick Maroon – 5-minute major (fighting)
BOS D Zdeno Chara – 5-minute major (fighting)
BOS F Brad Marchand – 2-minute minor (slashing)
TBL Bench Minor – 2-minute minor (delay-of-game) – assistant coach barking at the refs, was ejected from the game
And the second period ends emphatically there.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 28 TBL: 15
Score: 3-2 Lightning – Goals: Paquette (7) Assists: Bogosian (6), Coburn (3); McAvoy (5) Assists: Coyle (21), Grzelcyk (17); Kuraly (6) Assists: McAvoy (27), Kase (17)
The final regulation period starts with a brief 4-on-4 session that sees no goals. However, on Tampa’s shortened power-play off of Marchand’s slashing minor during the intermission, Sergachev takes a point shot that was tipped in by Alex Killorn and the Bolts regain their two-goal advantage just over one minute into the third period.
After some good chances on both ends for either team, Nikita Kucherov gets called on a minor penalty and the Bruins are going to another power-play opportunity. On an offensive zone faceoff win, Torey Krug skates backward towards the point and makes a cross-ice pass to David Pastrnak who unloaded a cannon from way downtown to make this one a 4-3 hockey game. Pastrnak takes sole possession of the league-lead in goals with his 48th of the season.
And once again, the two teams get into a scuffle after a whistle roughly nine minutes into the game. In the mix of it all, Bergeron gets sent to the box for two minutes for a delay-of-game penalty (puck over the glass) and now the Bruins go to a very important penalty-kill. During the possession time, McAvoy, Chara, and Tyler Johnson were engaging in a hard battle with cross-checks in front of Tuukka Rask that leads to another post-whistle scrum. Bruins make the kill.
Just around seven minutes to go, David Pastrnak receives a great pass to be sent alone on a breakaway but his fantastic shot is shut down by Vasilevskiy who keeps this a one-goal contest. Moments later, as Ondrej Kase stickhandles the puck through the neutral zone, Tyler Johnson’s stick interferes with him and takes him down, however, the officials call both the stick infraction and embellishment on Kase so we go to 4-on-4 for two minutes.
With 1:02 remaining, Nikita Kucherov picks up a loose puck from a falling David Krejci and buries it in the empty-net. Tampa Bay wins this one, 5-3 and win the season series over the Bruins.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 38 TBL: 25
Final Score: 5-3 Lightning
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: TBL G Andrei Vasilevskiy – 35 Saves on 38 Shots, .921 SV%
2nd Star: TBL D Mikhail Sergachev – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Hits, 29:05 TOI
3rd Star: BOS D Charlie McAvoy – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 4 Hits, 25:45 TOI
The Bruins now only have a seven-point lead on Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic Division and look to their next game on Tuesday against the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers who have won nine consecutive games.