The Bruins ran their win streak to seven, with a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay tonight, and did so in classic Bruin style, with a heavy-hitting game. With the win, the B's grabbed sole possession of second place in the East.
The Bruins had an early scoring chance; Patrice Bergeron got the puck from Mark Recchi on a 3 on 2, and Mike Smith flew across the crease to make a fantastic save. However, in the 8th minute, Mattias Ritola had a great chance stuffed by Tim Thomas. That led to a Milan Lucic cross-checking penalty. The Lightning had numerous great chances on the power play, including one shot by Steven Stamkos that rang the post, bounced into Thomas, and was covered up for a save.
Adam Hall’s hooking penalty in the 11th minute led to a Boston power play, but, alas, the Bruins were scoreless again, despite some smooth puck movement. In the 16th minute, the Bruins looked certain to have scored, when Recchi deflected the puck past Smith, but it never crossed the goal line. It’s probably just as well; Recchi clearly hit it with a high stick. With a minute to go, Lucic rang the post, and with the Bruins attacking in the zone, Nathan Horton tried to get a little fancy with his puckhandling and ended up turning it over, and the period ended scoreless.
The Lightning struck early in the second, as Eric Brewer smoked Thomas on a slapshot high in the slot. The shot appeared to deflect off Steven Kampfer on the way past Thomas. As has happened often this season, the goal seemed to bring the B’s to life, as Kampfer atoned for his error by beating Smith on a slapper through the five hole, and the Bruins upped the physical play.
However, the Bruins often crossed the fine line between physical and undisciplined, and the period turned into an undisciplined affair by the black and gold, taking a number of penalties and the Lightning seemingly spending half the period on the power play. It began when Gregory Campbell was on a rush, attacked the crease and barreled into Smith and there were offsetting 10 minute misconducts from the ensuing fracas. Shortly after, Recchi was knocked into the goal, intentionally or not, by Martin St. Louis. Ultimately, the physical play culminated in Lucic dropping the gloves with Brewer. It wasn’t Lucic’s best bout, but he scored a clear win, landing a few good shots, while Brewer mostly held onto Looch’s jersey for dear life. Tampa Bay ended up with a 2 man advantage, which the Bruins killed and turned it into a golden scoring chance, as Horton had a breakaway coming out of the box, but Smith made a dazzling stop.
At the 5 minute mark of the third, Smith made yet another huge save, robbing Brad Marchand, who took a pass in the slot from Bergeron. Tomas Kaberle had his best chance yet for his first Boston goal, but rang the post 9 minutes into the period after beating Smith high on the glove side.
The Bruins were getting the better of the physical play throughout the game, and through the third in particular, and it finally paid off with 3:42 to go. With a mad scrum in front, and assorted bodies flying about, Lucic scooped up a loose puck and roofed it for a 2-1 lead. The Bruins held that to the bitter end, doing a good job of keeping Smith in the net until a minute to go and denying the sixth attacker a good chance to score the equalizer.
- Lucic was the game's first star, Johnny Boychuk the second and Thomas the third. However, Smith was phenomenal in this one for the Lightning, keeping the team in the game with a number of highlight reel stops.
- Vincent Lecavalier missed this one with a mid-body injury. That couldn't have helped Tampa Bay's power play, which finished 0 for 4, squandering a 2 man advantage that ran for almost 2 full minutes.
- The win streak is Boston's longest since the 2008-9 season, when they won 10 straight.
- The hits were scored at 27-17 for the Bruins, but that doesn't do justice to how aggressive the Bruins were tonight. They were by far the more physical team, and seemed to wear down the Lightning as the game went on.
- The shots were even at 28 apiece, ditto faceoffs at 23 apiece.
- Who led the block party in this one? Dikembe Seidenberg? Nope. Adam McQuaid? Nope. How about Kaberle, who led all players with 4. Who said he can't play in his own zone?
- The Bruins have won the season series against Tampa Bay 3-1, and will thus have the tiebreaker if the teams finish tied in points.
- Raw Charge has more on this game from the Tampa Bay point of view.
- The Bruins return to action Saturday, when they will host the Penguins.