It was John “Hannibal” Smith who once said “I love it when a plan comes together”, and that is certainly what happened at TD Garden tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning might be out of the playoffs but they certainly have been riding a goal scoring streak as of late under the support of Steven Stamkos and the ageless Martin St. Louis. But neither of them could penetrate the stone wall that is Tuukka Rask.
The Boston Bruins are within a game of wrapping up the Northeast Division and with the way they played tonight, it seems like they can finally do it and go into the post season the Bruins team they need to be. Tampa isn’t an easy team to face, especially when their top line has two dangerous goal scorers; but the Bruins were able to solve them and play Bruins hockey. This was an important game, and everyone came to play. It might have not been a blow out win, but this 2-0 shutout showed us a lot about how this Bruins team will evolve in it’s last 2 games of the regular season.
The first period was certainly not very east nor west in terms of play on the ice. Things looked like they might get off sloppy for the Bruins, and then Andrew Ference dropped the gloves with former teammate Benoit Poliout. Ference’s fight sparked a special kind of fire under the Bruins, and they fueled those flames through the end of the first and into the beginning of the second period. Brad Marchand has certainly been learning something from Jagr, and it’s puck handling. Marchand already had a great puck handling skill but ever since Jagr has arrived in Boston, it’s gotten much better and much more lethal. Marchand made a terrific passing play to Dennis Seidenberg who netted his 3rd goal of the season and put the Bruins up 1-0 in the second. Daniel Paille followed 13 minutes later with his 10th of the season off of a terrific saucer pass from Campbell and put the Bruins up 2-0. Milan Lucic engaged in the second fight of the game squaring up against Keith Aulie, and speaking of Lucic; this game was all him. Lucic’s physical play and rough and tough attitude showed through tonight as he created a lot of turn overs and offensive chances for the Bruins. He may have gone pointless in this game, but his presence was felt.
The game’s first star Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots by the Lightning (with 26 shots 5-on-5 and 4 on the Penalty Kill) and was playing his best game all season. He had two highway robbery saves on Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis and was a force to be reckoned with. On the flip side, Andres Lindback surrendered 2 goals but still made 24 saves and still managed to post a .900+ SV% by the end of the game. Rask’s team carrying play helped out when the defence got a little sloppy and it seems like he is ready to take on the roll of the playoff savior if he has to be.
The powerplay for the Bruins was one chance and again the B’s showed solid puck movement. They might not have connected for a goal but the gears are certainly turning with Brad Marchand, Jarmoir Jagr, and Carl Soderberg being the main cogs to the powerplay machine. The PK killed 4 chances and while there weren’t many short handed bids for the Bruins, it didn’t really matter as they defensively solved the strong powerplay force of the Lightning.
The Bruins will head to Washington where they will hopefully put away the Northeast Division and get their own revenge for the Game 7 OT upset in 2012. The clock has almost run down on the regular season, but the Bruins have the batteries to keep it going for the post-season.