Without Bergeron, McAvoy, Chara, and DeBrusk, the Bruins are still able to topple the Atlantic Divison leaders.
On Thursday night, the Bruins struggled against the Panthers in the first half of their Florida trip. Tonight, only an utterly dominant performance against, what many consider one of, if not the best team in the NHL. Missing four of their best players, and losing David Backes late in the first, the Bruins defeat the Lightning and are now only 2 points behind Tampa Bay, with a game in hand. After a few weeks of up and down play, the Bruins’ performance tonight showed why they are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
The Bruins would light the lamp first, just 3 minutes into the game. A great puck battle along the boards was eventually won by the tandem work of Riley Nash and Tommy Wingels and the puck found its way over to Torey Krug at the left point. A great pass found the streaking David Pastrnak and he slid the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy on the backhand to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead. The Bruins would later head to the powerplay after Steven Stamkos was whistled for an interference penalty. After only a few seconds on the man advantage, a Torey Krug point shot went wide of the goal and bounced to David Backes, who buried the rebound to double the lead for the visitors.
Looking for a third goal of the period, a keep in by Matt Grzelcyk would lead to a David Pastrnak wraparound opportunity, which Vasilevskiy would stop and the puck would sit in the crease, but the Bruins couldn’t finish it off, and the score remained 2-0. Tampa would get some offensive pressure late in the period, but Tuukka Rask would stand tall, keeping the Lightning off the scoreboard. A scary moment would happen with under 30 seconds to go in the period. A couple players would collide in the Tampa Bay crease, and David Backes would be cut by a skate and immediately skate on one leg to the bench in severe pain. It was later announced that Backes had a laceration above his right knee which required several stitches and he would not return to the game.
Already with a 2 goal lead, and a great 20 minutes under their belt, the Bruins kept the pressure on. The Bruins would impressively kill off the first Lightning powerplay of the game and just after 12 minutes into the frame, the Bruins would head back to the powerplay. After only 9 seconds on the man advantage, the Bruins would score for the third time. Torey Krug, who was along the half-wall, shot the puck on goal and the puck popped out in front of the crease, where Riley Nash snuck in and put the puck past Vasilevskiy for a 3-0 Bruins lead. As the period progressed, the Bruins would successfully kill off two more Tampa Bay powerplays, and we would head to the locker rooms after 40 minutes played.
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The Lightning would come out buzzing in the third period down 3 goals and needed an answer quickly. For about the opening 7 minutes of the period, the Lightning dominated possession and it looked like they would score sooner rather than later. Tuukka Rask and the rest of the Bruins buckled down and held them scoreless. Tampa did have a glorious chance as the puck found its way over to Alex Killorn, but even with a gaping cage, he put it wide and Tampa couldn’t buy a goal tonight. After Tampa’s initial spell of pressure, the period evened out and Rask and the Bruins maintained the shutout, capping off a game where the Bruins were in complete control over the bolts.
- The Bruins powerplay was a huge reason for the victory tonight as two of their goals came on the man advantage. Coming into tonight Tampa Bay’s penalty kill unit was struggling recently, giving up powerplay goals in 16 out of 47 opportunities, a percentage of 65% success rate.
- Torey Krug has 22 assists in his last 28 games, continuing his strong offensive season.
- In his last 5 games, Rask’s save percentage was .887, and he was due for a night like tonight.
- Without Chara and McAvoy, Kevan Miller lead the team TOI at 21:41, followed by Nick Holden at 21:26.
- Riley Nash now has 39 points on the season, that matches his point total from the past two seasons combined.
- Back at it again Monday night vs Columbus.