The Bruins outplayed an over-matched Tampa Bay Lightning team to earn their 4th straight victory tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden. Blake Wheeler and Chuck Kobasew both reached the 20 goal mark for the season in the 3-1 win, while Zdeno Chara recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Manny Fernandez turned aside 24 shots for his 16th win of the season.
The Bruins came out with a lot of energy in the opening period, out shooting the Lightning 10-4 in the first period and setting the tone with some physical play. Tempers flared 8:43 into the game, when Milan Lucic appeared to finished his hit after the whistle. The Lightning took exception to Lucic's hit on Evgeny Artyukhin and some pushing and shoving ensued. Evgeny Artyukhin exchanged a few shoves with David Krejci before Zdeno Chara came over and gave Artyukhin a shot to the back of the head, setting off a bout between Chara and Artyukhin. Chara landed several punches before he lost balance and was pulled to the ice by Artyukhin. The Bruins went up 1-0 after Blake Wheeler shoveled in a rebound from Marc Savard's shot for his 20th goal of the season.
Zdeno Chara extended the Bruins' lead to 2-0 6:56 into the second period on a power play goal. The B's worked the puck down low to Patrice Bergeron, who was stationed along the goal line on the left wing side of the ice. Chara saw the Lightning's penalty killers collapsing on the puck, creating an opening for him to drive to the net on the off-wing. Patrice Bergeron sent a perfect pass across the goalmouth to Chara, who buried the puck in the back of the net. The Bruins appeared to go up 3-0 just 30 seconds later when P.J. Axelsson's shot beat Lightning goaltender Mike McKenna, however the goal was disallowed when Blake Wheeler was whistled for goaltender interference on the play. Chuck Kobasew made it 3-0 for real with a power play goal with 6:25 left in the middle period. Zdeno Chara fired a one-time slap shot towards the Tampa Bay goal, which was tipped in by Kobasew for his 20th goal of the season. The shot from Chara was so hard that it knocked the stick right out of Kobasew's hand. Tempers continued to flare late in the second period. Byron Bitz and Petiot dropped the gloves with 3:39 left in the period. Bitz caught Petiot with a few haymakers before he wrestled Petiot to the ice. Milan Lucic squared off with a reluctant Josef Melichar after Lucic took an elbow from Melichar. Lucic made quick work of Melichar, who would have lost on the standing 8 count rule. Despite putting 14 shots on goal in middle period, the Lightning only tested Manny Fernandez a few times. The Bruins were able to take advantage of their power play opportunities and took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
Manny Fernandez lost his shutout bid when Steve Stamkos collected a rebound and beat Fernandez up top with a quick snap shot for the rookie's 20th goal of the season. The Lightning came inches away from pulling to within one goal with just under 4 minutes left in the game when Vincent Lecavalier's slapshot rang off the post.
- Zdeno Chara got a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist, fight) on Gordie Howe's 81st birthday.
- David Krejci recorded 2 assists (both secondary assists).
- Chuck Kobasew put 6 shots on net.
- Three different players recorded their 20th goal of the season during tonight's game (Blake Wheeler and Chuck Kobasew for Boston and Steven Stamkos for Tampa Bay).
- Former Bruin Matt Lashoff picked up an assist on Stamkos' goal.
- Shawn Thornton (undisclosed injury) missed his first game of the season.
- Odd Stat of the Night: Zdeno Chara was not credited with a hit tonight.
Chara vs. Artyukhin
Bitz vs. Petiot
Lucic vs. Melichar