The Tampa Bay Lightning got back to their winning ways on Saturday afternoon. Following a season worst four game losing streak, the Bolts bounced back with a hard fought 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames. On Tuesday night, the Lightning welcomed the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins to Amalie Arena. The Bruins entered the night with a seven point lead in the division over Tampa Bay.
Both of the previous meetings between these two division rivals this season have ended in Lightning victories. First, Steven Stamkos led Tampa Bay with a shootout winner at the TD Garden in October. Then in December, Stamkos led the way again with two goals in a 3-2 Lightning home win. This time, the Bolts captain could not be counted on for heroics to lift his team to victory. On Monday, Stamkos underwent successful surgery to repair a muscle injury. He is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season. Currently, Stamkos is second on the team in both goals (29) and points (66), trailing only Nikita Kucherov in each.
Playoff style energy from puck drop
Before the game, the Amalie Arena in game producers showed a video commemorating Jeff Vinik and the Vinik family as Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of their purchase of the Lightning. The video ran through the many accomplishments of the Vinik’s both on and off the ice in the Tampa Bay community. This seemed to really captivate the fans in attendance and set the tone for the energy and atmosphere. There was a constant buzz in the air throughout the game, as one would expect between two Atlantic Division juggernauts battling in early March.
When it was time for hockey, both teams hit the ice fast and physical. After a couple of scoring chances in the first two minutes fell short, the penalty killers were called upon for an early test. Just 2:35 into the game, Kevin Shattenkirk found himself in the box for hooking. The Tampa Bay penalty killers were up to the task, however. Boston saw minimal zone time and constant blue line disruption leading to a successful kill for the Bolts. This was a welcomed sign for Tampa Bay as their penalty kill ranking has taken a dip in recent weeks. Before Tuesday night’s game, the Lightning were ranked 11th in the league at 81.7%.
The team’s traded back and forth rushes and scoring chances throughout the early and middle parts of the opening period. Then, at 14:09, the Bolts got their first shot with the man advantage. A Brandon Carlo tripping penalty put the 7th ranked Lightning power play onto the ice. Though they were able to sustain zone time early on, the power play opportunity eventually fell short.
Marchand gets Boston on the board
The game remained scoreless until 19:05 when Brad Marchand redirected a Torey Krug pass in for his 28th goal of the season. Marchand, whose status was in doubt after missing the morning skate due to illness, was a game time decision for Boston. His tally gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead that they carried into the second period.
Just over five minutes into the period, Yanni Gourde appeared to tie the game on a wrist shot set up by Zach Bogosian. However, a Bruins challenge determined that the play was offside upon entry into the zone. To add insult to injury for Gourde, just seconds later, he found himself in the penalty box for tripping against Charlie Coyle. However, just as they did in their first opportunity, the Tampa Bay penalty kill suffocated and shut down the Boston power play while creating several shorthanded chances.
Other than their two minutes of power play time, the Bruins mostly controlled the period. The Lightning were outskated, outplayed, less physical, and less disciplined. There were flashes of moments where they were able to create rushes, but ultimately nothing resulting in a goal.
Debrusk ends scoring drought, extends Bruins lead
At 10:06 of the second period, Jake Debrusk extended the Bruins lead to 2-0. The Bruins winger found himself on a breakaway after a diving attempt by Zach Bogosian to break up the play left him all alone at the blue line. Debrusk cashed in on the breakway to extend Boston’s lead to 2-0. Had the play not resulted in a goal, the Lightning would have been shorthanded due to Bogosian being called for tripping on his dive at Debrusk.
The score ended a 10 game goal and points drought for Jake Debrusk. His last point game when he scored a goal against the Coyotes on February 8th.
Stephens finds the back of the net, and this one counts
With momentum fully on the Bruin’s side, the Lightning finally got on the scoreboard with 2:32 left in the second. After a Tyler Johnson shot was blocked by traffic in front of the net, Mitchell Stephens played cleanup on the rebound and fired a wrist shot past Tuukka Rask. The goal was Stephens’ third of the season and cut the Boston lead to 2-1.
The excitement of the period came with less than 10 seconds to go. After some pushing and shoving, Yanni Gourde and Joakim Nordstrom decided to drop the gloves. Gourde absorbed his share of hits but held is own in the skirmish. The arena erupted in cheers from Bruins and Lightning fans alike as the period came to a close.
When the team’s headed to the locker room, the Bruins held a 31-17 shot advantage. As has been the story of much of his young career, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had to make crucial saves to keep his team in the game. The game could have gotten out of hand in the second, but Vasilevskiy stood tall as he’s done so often.
Lightning grab momentum in third period, Boston holds on
The Gourde vs. Nordstrom fight at the end of the second period seemed to provide a spark going into the third. Tampa Bay came out faster and more focused after the second intermission. After being outshot 31-14 through 40 minutes, the Bolts spent the majority of the third period applying pressure in the Bruins zone. Tuukka Rask was called upon to stop an Anthony Cirelli breakway among other scoring chances from Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, Victor Hedman, and others. Bruins skaters were gassed and forced to take icing calls throughout the period.
Rask did not break, even when faced with 6 on 5 pressure with the Tampa Bay goalie pulled. His effort in the third period, denying a Lightning surge, preserved Boston’s 2-1 victory. This was the Bruins first win over the Bolts this season and extends their lead in the Atlantic Division to 9 points.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper described this game as a tale of 2 games. “They took it to us for 35 minutes and we took it to them for 25 minutes.”
Next up for the Lightning
The Montreal Canadiens come to town Thursday night for a 7:00 puck drop at Amalie Arena.
3 stars of the game
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (33/35 saves)
- Jake Debrusk (1 G)
- Brad Marchand (1 G)
For postgame comments from players and head coach Jon Cooper, visit us on Youtube!
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