(Photo Credit: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

TD Garden has been a goals galore in 2024. After a wild 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday that included six first-period tallies, the Boston Bruins returned to home ice for another high-scoring matchup on Saturday night with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite allowing a goal just 21 seconds into the game, Trent Frederic and the Bruins fought back, edging the Lightning 7-3 to improve to 24-8-6 as twelve different Bruins collected a point.

Frederic stayed red-hot, scoring his 11th and 12th goals of the season, continuing his recent dominance for the Black and Gold. The 25-year-old has scored five goals in his last four games, using his physical yet nifty skillset to find the back of the net. Saturday was no different, potting a pair of net-front goals to slot the Bruins back into the win column in the team’s first home win of the New Year.

“I think his confidence has increased, his poise with the puck,” said head coach Jim Montgomery after the win. “And he’s got tremendous hands. In practice, he scores more than anyone except for (Pastrnak). I think it’s coming, the kind of player he is. He’s got to keep being really focused on his habits and details and moving his feet. If he’s doing those things, I expect him to keep scoring like he is.”

After Brayden Point put the Lightning on the board at 0:21 of the first period, the Bruins took a page out of Pittsburgh’s book from Thursday: they responded. Just over four minutes after the Point goal, Frederic scored his first career power-play goal on a heads-up feed from Kevin Shattenkirk. The veteran blueliner picked his head up, dishing a firm pass to Frederic, who turned it to the forehand for the easy score.

“It’s just his athletic ability,” Montgomery said of moving Frederic to the power play. “He can finish, he’s got great hands, but he’s a big body. The reason I think he can continue to finish is he’s putting himself in situations to score. He’s not differing anymore.”

After a Charlie McAvoy shot from the point gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 14:56 of the first period, Frederic scored his second goal just under two minutes into the second. He fired a shot towards Andrei Vasilevskiy, getting his rebound and banking it off his pad and into the goal. Frederic feels that his confidence level has never been this high at this point in his career.

“It’s been going in, so that’s nice,” he said. “Sometimes when it’s not going in, you’re shooting it and you never think it’s going to go in. Now, it’s going in for you, everything you shoot you’re like does that go in? Having that is obviously huge.”

However, a 3-1 lead was just the beginning of what transpired to be an offensive outburst on Saturday night. After Nikita Kucherov converted a goal on a Jake DeBrusk turnover at 7:53 of the second period, Boston returned to the attack as David Pastrnak roofed one over Vasilevskiy’s glove on a breakaway bid. Pastrnak’s two-point game increases his season stat line to 24-31-55.

But Tampa Bay wouldn’t back down. Point scored his second of the game on highlight effort Kucherov, who pulled the puck between his legs around Hampus Lindholm before a slick feed on Point’s tape. It wasn’t until the third period that Boston took over. The Bruins killed off two penalties, including a shorthanded goal, in what was one of Montgomery’s favorite periods of the season.

“I really liked our third period,” said Montgomery. “I thought we were smart, we didn’t give up an odd-man rush, (and) we had numbers everywhere. We kept hanging onto pucks in the offensive zone (and) making them defend so they didn’t have much energy to go the other way.”

The result? A Morgan Geekie tally ignited three unanswered goals at 1:35 of the third frame. Pastrnak feathered a puck to Geekie, quickly snapping it past Vasilevskiy to provide Boston a 5-3 lead. Geekie has been on an offensive tear, posting 8-9-17 in his last 19 games. Ever since being moved between Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha, Geekie has found his offensive groove.

“It’s fun,” said Geekie. I think that’s the main thing, those two are fun to play with. Just try to get open for them and obviously you see the way that they both make plays.”

The Bruins put the exclamation point on their two points with a DeBrusk empty-netter with under four minutes remaining until Charlie Coyle buried a breakaway attempt for good measure. Coyle picked Steven Stamkos’ pocket at the blue line, beating him down the ice for a quick snap shot past Vasilevskiy. Stamkos was on Coyle’s hip the whole way down the ice, making scoring the game’s seventh goal as hard as possible.

“It’s one of those where you’re just trying to push the puck ahead and skate as fast as you can,” said Coyle. “(He’s) a pretty good skater himself, and you don’t want to look back too much, but the corner of my eye is seeing where his stick is.

In the win, Matt Poitras also collected his first two points since leaving for the World Junior Championships, assisting McAvoy’s goal and Frederic’s second goal. The Bruins are back in action Monday for a matchup with the Colorado Avalanche. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 p.m.