It looked like the same old story for a while in Boston. The Bruins would come out in the first period, put on a great sound and light show, but fail to put anything in the net. The second period appeared to be more of the same. Then one of the Hockey Gods decided it would be time to throw a massive wrench in the works. In a period of four minutes Steven Stamkos broke his leg while plowing into the post after getting tied up with Dougie Hamilton, and Sami Salo came up lame after taking a hit from Carl Soderberg. Keith Aulie went down early in the third with an upper body injury and those casualties cost the Lightning dearly in offensive production.
“We went sixteen games without anybody being hurt and the snowball went down the hill today,” said Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper after the game. “It was a little tiny guy and it ended up a mountain when it got to the bottom of the hill. Again, I don’t know the prognosis on all these guys, but you lose nobody for sixteen games and you lose three games in one, that’s tough. It’s hockey. Everybody loses guys. Just pick a team. Everybody’s lost players. Ours just happened all at once and you can’t hang your head. You know it’s going to happen at some point. That’s why you have depth in the organization and we’ll see where we’re at.”
The Bruins were able to capitalize on those injuries and the uncertainty of the Lightning by putting in two goals in the gap of twenty seconds. The announcer never had a chance to get the first goal out( a great rebound by Patrice Bergeron that was initially awarded to Torey Krug) when Daniel Paille used his speed and had a great run on Anders Lindback. The third period saw another Bruins goal waved off by the refs. (I had lamented that if the Lightning somehow got back into this game, they should award the third star of the game to the refs who kept it a closer game then it should have been.) In the end, Jarome Iginla chipped an empty netter in with a minute to go to seal the deal and give Boston a 3-0 win.
Tuukka Rask was utterly magnificent in the crease last night. He totally earned the first star of the game. “I think as a team we’ve played pretty good against them, and it helps my job a lot,” said Rask, who earned his second shutout of the season. “Obviously they get chances, but it’s not like they get chances all the time. So I think [some] of the best games we’ve played as a team has been against these guys.” This gives Rask a 10-4-1 record with a ludicrous .948 save percentage and a 1.52 goals against average. If the NHL can’t recognize this as a Vezina level performance than Shanahan over at Player Safety needs to suspend a few of those executives for a few games.
The special teams came through again for Boston. The Bruins streak at stopping goals on the penalty kill now stands at twenty two, and the Bruins are finally showing the sound play and smart choices that made them such a terror on the PK last season. The Bruins have now won three in a row, and they’ll hope to continue that streak when the Columbus Blue Jackets come into town on Thursday.
See if the Bruins can continue the streak against the Blue Jackets this Thursday! Buy your Bruins tickets now!