By Dan Libon
BOSTON, MA – Showing no signs of a hangover or any emotional turmoil from their six game road trip, the Bruins picked up a very big, 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at the TD Garden. In a game that would break the tie for second place in the Eastern Conference, Boston showed great patience in their shots and beat a difficult team known for having a strong offensive presence.
Having already defeated the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks and the red-hot, (no pun intended) Calgary Flames, the Bruins would once again have to come up with answers to one of the top teams in the league.
“Just like all year, seems like we end up lining up against teams right when they seem to be really big games as far as the standings go.” said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
Going into this game, the test would be if the Bruins defense could stop the league leading scorer Steven Stamkos, as well as the person who ranks second in assists, Martin St. Louis.
The difference between second and third place for the Bruins is a potential factor because if Boston finishes in second place, it almost guarantees a game against the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres or Toronto Maple Leafs. A third place finish however is most likely a date with the Montreal Canadiens. A Montreal series would be exciting, as well as exhausting and emotionally draining for a Bruins team that has struggled in physical contests. Although, this is not saying that the other teams are easy, but they do provided a series with less historical emotion, which may not be a bad thing, right?
With two of the best offensive teams in the league playing against one another, a shootout was not to be expected. Instead, the Bruins fan faithful saw two teams that took their time on offense and waited for the right opportunities. While there was no score after the first period, the Bruins showed great patience in their shot selections with good puck movement. On the other end, Stamkos had the best attempt for a goal for the Lightning with a shot from the left side that wound up hitting the post and didn’t land in Thomas’s net.
As emotions and tempers on both teams increased, it would be the Lighting that would score first with a slap shot from Eric Brewer from the top of the slot. The Bruins would not be down for long, as Steve Kampfer scored off of a Rich Peverley pass off the boards to tie the game, 1-1.
“I tried to poke it up to [Steven] Kampfer and he had a great shot off the post and it was perfect,” said Peverley.
After a 10-minute game misconduct on both Bruins’ forward, Shawn Thornton and Lightning’s forward Steve Downie, Nathan Horton would get called for tripping penalty, while Milan Lucic was flagged for roughing and fighting. Yet, despite having almost 2 minutes of a two-man advantage, Tampa Bay failed to get a goal on the power play.
“They came at us really hard.” said Lightning forward Simone Gagne. “You don’t expect that on a 5-on-3, and I think they caught us by surprise there.”
Once the third period began, tempers on both benched settled down, but also, Boston eventually watched Lucic net the go-ahead goal, which secured their seventh win in a row.
“I was just trying to look for the loose puck because there was enough guys in front of the net. I knew there was not real reason for me to get in there but just kind of wait around,” said Lucic.
With this win, the Bruins have taken sole possession of second place and have earned a two game lead on Tampa Bay. In addition, the Bruins are also only three points behind the conference leading Philadelphia Flyers, who remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bruins will continue their current home stand against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, face-off is scheduled for 7:00pm eastern.