By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Bruins look to make it 7 Straight Wins
After winning six straight games on the road, the Boston Bruins returned to home ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston finished off their road trip on March 1st when they won a nail-biter over the Senators 1-0. The Lightning, on the other hand, was coming off a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Both teams were fighting for second place in the conference and trying to gain some ground in 1st place. What many did not know was that in a couple of months, these two teams would be facing each other in the Eastern Conference Finals. Scratches for Boston were Andrew Ference and rookie Tyler Seguin, while the Lightning were without All-star Vincent Lecavalier, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and Matt Smaby. The starting goaltenders were Tim Thomas, who looked to continue his phenomenal year at 28-8-6 with a 1.97 GAA and .939 save pct, and Mike Smith, who had not played since December 18th.
Slow Start to the Game
The first period started relatively slow for both teams until the 12:05 mark when Milan Lucic was called for Cross-Checking and put the Lightning on the powerplay for the first time of the night. The Lightning would have a couple of good opportunities on the powerplay, including a wrist shot from Steven Stamkos that clanged the post, but the Bruins would make the kill. About three minutes later, Adam Hall from Tampa would be called for hooking, and the Bruins would be on the powerplay. The Bruins would have a couple of excellent chances, but Mike Smith would bail out the Lightning, and it was back to 5 on 5 hockey. The period would continue in exciting back and forth action; one of the more exciting moments came with 1:02 left when Milan Lucic rang the post and almost put Boston up 1-0. The Lightning would end up outshooting Boston 10-8, but this was an even bout between both teams.
Things Start to Heat Up
With the second period starting, both teams wanted to break the scoreless tie and put their respective team on top. The Lightning would be the team to break the scoreless tie at 15:56 in the game as Eric Brewer ripped a wrist shot past Tim Thomas and gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead. 2 minutes and 2 seconds later, Steven Kampfer would light the lamp and tie the game for Boston. It was Kampfer’s first goal in 18 games, and he would put the Boston faithful on their feet cheering. Seconds later, as Boston had a breakaway, Gregory Campbell would be slammed into the net, and Brett Downie started toying with him.
Shawn Thornton didn’t like that and started barking at Downie to drop the gloves. Downie wouldn’t step up and be a man, so as a result of what just occurred, both Downie and Thornton got ten-minute misconduct penalties. At 11:43 in the period, Mattias Ohlund was called for roughing on David Krejci, and the Bruins were back on the powerplay. As the powerplay was winding down, with about seven seconds left, Nathan Horton and Dominic Moore would get tangled up on the boards, and things got chippy. Milan Lucic and Eric Brewer came over to the scene and started barking at each other, and soon enough, they dropped the gloves.
Lucic landed a couple of good blows, and both were sent to the box for fighting majors. As a result of everything that just unraveled, the Lightning would end up being on a 5 on 3 powerplay. The Bruins shorthanded unit, along with Tim Thomas, did an unbelievable job killing off the two penalties, and it was back to even strength. However, the Bruins would find themselves shorthanded as Dennis Seidenberg would be called for Cross-checking. The strong penalty kill for Boston would persevere, and it was back to even-strength. The horn finally sounded, and the game was tied at 1, heading into the second intermission.
Bruins Prevail, Win 7 Straight
Heading into the third period, both teams looked to break the scoreless tie. If the third period was going to be anything like the second, we were going to see a scrappy, fight-filled period. As the period started, both teams couldn’t find any opportunities until the 15-minute mark when Tampa Bay’s Randy Jones lost the puck, and Marchand stole the puck and almost broke the tie. Thankfully for Tampa, Mike Smith was poised and snapped a beautiful glove save. The period progressed, and both teams played an almost perfect period until the halfway mark when Eric Brewer was called for a high stick and put Boston on the powerplay.
This was a perfect opportunity for Boston to take the lead and gain momentum. Boston couldn’t get anything to go, and Tampa was able to make the kill. As the period entered the final four minutes, the Bruins started skating extra hard, trying to break the tie. With 3:42 left and bodies littered in front of Mike Smith, Milan Lucic was able to find the puck, snap a wrist shot and give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. TD Garden’s roof almost came unglued, and the crowd was as loud as ever. It was Lucic’s 28th goal of the season, and the Bruins looked to fend off the Lightning and hold on to a 2-1 lead. The Bruins did a phenomenal job holding off the Lightning in the last few minutes and would hold on for a 2-1 win.
On to Pittsburgh
As Boston would hang on and win 2-1, it would be the Bruins seventh straight win and put them in second place in the conference. The last time the Bruins won seven straight was during the 2008-2009 season. This was as even of a game you could get as both teams took 28 shots on goal and split the number of faceoffs won. Mike Smith would have 26 saves while Tim Thomas had 27. The three stars of the game would be all Boston as it was Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk, and Tim Thomas. As Boston was now riding a seven-game win streak, they looked to make it eight when they would face the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 5th. Pittsburgh at the time was only two games behind Boston, so this would be a good test for the Red-hot Bruins.