(Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

The Boston Bruins were defeated 3-1 in the second half of a back-to-back on the road Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hockey game was relatively even, but the Bruins couldn’t break through offensively.

The Lightning did a good job of taking away time and space and, at times, suffocating Boston. It was the fourth and final game of the regular season, and the Bruins finished 1-1-2 in the matchup after this one.

First Period

Tampa Bay had the first two quality chances of the game, first with a Nikita Kucherov burst off the rush, but his shot went wide. Then Steven Stamkos teed up a shot from out high that Linus Ullmark blocked aside. Boston had their first quality opportunity off the rush as well off the stick of Morgan Geekie, but he missed the net. The Lightning built up some consistent attacking zone time, but Boston was sound defensively until the home team broke through. Mitchell Chaffee got behind the Bruins’ defense and beat Ullmark for a 1-0 lead.

Tampa Bay received the game’s first power play after James van Riemsdyk was called for a holding minor, but they didn’t execute much of anything, and it was killed off. After taking a wrist shot off the rush from the middle, Charlie McAvoy looked to pull even, but he rang iron. The Black and Gold had another great chance on a net-mouth scramble shortly after, but nobody could get a stick on the loose puck.

With 2:49 to go, Danton Heinen tied the game 1-1, coming off a Tampa Bay turnover. Pavel Zacha had the primary assist, and the goal was Heinen’s 15th of the season. McAvoy committed a bad turnover in the final seconds, giving the Lightning one last chance, but Ullmark shut the door. Tampa Bay has the shots on goal advantage 12-10. 

Second Period

The Lightning had a strong opening shift and tested Ullmark, but he had the answers, keeping the puck in front of him with good rebound control. After a long stretch of neutral zone hockey, Tampa Bay went back in front on a Brayden point wrap-around goal to make it 2-1. Just under a minute later, the Bruins got their first power play of the game on a Stamkos tripping minor. It was an uneventful man advantage that ended with only one shot on net, Boston’s first of the middle frame.

Finally, the Black and Gold were able to string together some good shifts, highlighted by a David Pastrnak breakaway created on a great pass by Hampus Lindholm. Unfortunately, the Bruins sniper was unable to get a shot away. With 1:41 remaining, Pastrnak was tripped on a two-on-one by Anthony Duclaire to give Boston a late power play. They weren’t able to capitalize, and it left 0:20 going into the third. Tampa had the edge in shots on goal 9-8. 

Third Period

For the first 0:20 of the period, the Bruins had a power play but could not take advantage of the fresh ice. The Lightning looked to extend their lead on a point-blank chance from Chaffee, but Ullmark smothered it. Another defensive zone giveaway and sloppy sequence resulted in Tampa momentarily extending their lead, but a coach’s challenge by Jim Montgomery was successful in determining the entry was offside.

The Lightning had three high-danger chances off the same rush, with the first two being denied by Ullmark and the third getting by him, but Lindholm got in the way of it. With just over 1:00 left to go, the Bruins pulled Ullmark for the extra attacker, but it did not work, and they couldn’t cleanly enter the offensive zone. Kucherov sealed the game with an empty netter; the final score was 3-1.

Up Next

Next, the Bruins will head to D.C. on Saturday night to take on the red-hot Washington Capitals. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m., marking the second matchup between the two teams this season. Washington won the first game 3-0 in what was a total no-show for Boston.