The Tampa Bay Lightning tied an NHL record for the most wins in a season (62, set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings) with their, 6-3, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.
Legendary Red Wings captain and former Lightning General Manager, Steve Yzerman can technically lay claim to being part of both seasons, as he was responsible for the makeup of Tampa’s roster before current Bolts GM Julien BriseBois took over prior to the start of the 2018-19 regular season (Yzerman stepped down citing a desire to spend more time with family).
Edward Pasquale (2-1-0 record, 3.96 goals against average, .882 save percentage in three games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against for a .909 SV% in the win for the Lightning.
Tuukka Rask (27-13-5, 2.48 GAA, .912 SV% in 46 GP) stopped 16 out of 21 shots faced in the loss for the B’s.
Boston fell to 49-24-9 (107 points) on the season, but already clinched 2nd place in the Atlantic Division prior to Saturday’s loss.
Tampa improved to 62-16-4 (128 points) and finished 1st in the Atlantic Division (as well as the entire NHL, finishing with the 4th most points in league history).
Bruce Cassidy rested some players on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild and did so once again against the Lightning on Saturday, sitting Brandon Carlo, Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Noel Acciari, Brad Marchand, while Chris Wagner (lower body), John Moore (upper body), Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and Kevan Miller (lower body) missed Saturday’s action due to injury.
Moore and Kuraly are likely to miss Game 1 of Boston’s First Round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but will otherwise be considered day-to-day.
Miller is expected to participate in full practice on Monday.
With all the scratches for Saturday, Anton Blidh and Jeremy Lauzon were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Saturday’s matinee.
Cassidy kept Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and David Pastrnak as his top line with Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle— suiting up in his 500th career NHL game– and Zach Senyshyn rounding out his top-six forwards.
Blidh skated on the left wing of the third line, centered by Trent Frederic with David Backes at right wing.
Danton Heinen, Joakim Nordstrom and Karson Kuhlman filled out the fourth line for Boston.
On defense, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy returned as the first defensive pair after both defenders got the night off in Minnesota.
Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton made up the second pair on the blue line and Lauzon suited up alongside Steven Kampfer.
Prior to puck drop, the Bruins honored several of their players with end of season awards.
DeBrusk was named the 2018-19 Eddie Shore Award winner, presented by the “Gallery Gods” for exceptional hustle and determination.
Marchand was named the 2018-19 Elizabeth Dufresne Award winner, determined by the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for outstanding performance during home games.
Chara won the 2018-19 John P. Bucyk Award, chosen by John Bucyk himself for the greatest off-ice charitable contributions during the season.
Finally, Pastrnak (Third Star), Bergeron (Second Star) and Marchand (First Star) took home the end of season Bruins Three Stars (top performers at home games in 2018-19), chosen by 98.5 The Sports Hub– the flagship radio station of Boston Bruins radio broadcasts.
In addition to the season awards, Rask was honored for breaking the Bruins franchise record for most wins by a goaltender on Feb. 3rd in Washington and presented with a painting. He has 265 career NHL wins in 495 career appearances (all with Boston).
Krejci (20) opened the scoring at 14:38 of the first period after batting a loose puck out of the air and into the twine to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead.
How did it happen?
McAvoy tried to work a pass over to Krejci on a two-on-one, but Braydon Coburn denied the passing lane, yielding a rebound off his body back to McAvoy for the forward progression towards the goal, whereby Krejci swatted the puck out of the air and into the net behind Pasquale.
Krejci’s goal was assisted by McAvoy (21) and Pastrnak (42). The goal also gave Boston their fifth 20-goal scorer this season (Pastrnak, 38, Marchand, 36, Bergeron, 32, DeBrusk, 27 and Krejci, 20).
Late in the period, Heinen (11) sent a wrist shot past Pasquale while Kuhlman was screening the Lightning goaltender to make it, 2-0, Bruins at 19:40.
Kampfer (3) recorded the only assist on the goal.
Entering the first intermission, Boston led on the scoreboard, 2-0, and in shots on goal, 11-7. The B’s also led in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (6-4) and hits (10-9), while the Bolts led in giveaways (4-3) and face-off win percentage (83-17).
Neither team had yet to see any action on the skater advantage entering the second period.
Early in the second period, Nordstrom slashed Steven Stamkos and sent the Lightning on the game’s first power play of the afternoon at 2:48.
In the waning seconds of the power play, Erik Cernak (5) cut the lead in half, 2-1, with a power play goal at 4:41 of the second period.
J.T. Miller (33) and Yanni Gourde (26) tallied the assists and Tampa started swinging momentum in their favor.
Coburn later high-sticked Nordstrom at 12:44 and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the day, but things did not go well on the skater advantage.
For the (league leading) 15th time this season, Boston allowed a shorthanded goal against after Stamkos (45) scooped up the puck and broke into the Lightning’s offensive zone on his own and beat Rask through the five-hole to tie the game, 2-2, at 12:52.
Worse, the Bruins butchered an attempt to clear the puck out of their own zone moments later and Anthony Cirelli (19) let go of a shot from the face-off circle that deflected off of Heinen’s stick past the Boston netminder.
Miller (34) and Coburn (19) had the assists on Cirelli’s goal at 16:59 and Tampa led, 3-2, for the first time of the afternoon.
Boston challenged the call on the ice for goaltender interference, as Alex Killorn had briefly ventured into Rask’s crease, but the call on the ice was not overturned as Killorn did not inhibit Rask’s ability to make a save.
Cassidy lost his timeout as a result of the failed challenge and the score remained, 3-2, for the Lightning.
After Mathieu Joseph delivered a hit on Krejci late in the period, Pastrnak took exception to Joseph’s efforts and offered to exchange fisticuffs.
Instead, Pastrnak received a two-minute minor for roughing at 17:47. Tampa did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Lightning led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 18-17, in shots on goal (including an, 11-6, advantage in the second period alone).
Boston held onto the advantage in blocked shots (8-5) and takeaways (7-6), while Tampa led in giveaways (8-5), hits (22-18) and face-off win% (68-32) after two periods.
The Bolts were 1/2 on the power play and the B’s were 0/1 heading into the third period.
Less than a minute into the third period, Nikita Kucherov (41) wrong-footed Rask and scored on the backhand after breaking through Boston’s defense.
Ryan McDonagh (37) had the only assist on Kucherov’s goal 53 seconds into the third period and the Lightning led, 4-2.
With the goal, Kucherov tied, Alexander Mogilny for the most points in a season by a Russian born player (set in 1992-93). He would later add another point in the form of an assist to set the new record for the most points (128) by a Russian born player in a single season.
Tyler Johnson tripped Clifton at 5:12 and the Bruins went on the power play for their second time of the afternoon. Tampa’s penalty kill matched Boston’s power play efforts and the B’s were not able to capitalize on the skater advantage.
After Clifton delivered a clean hip-check on Joseph, Joseph retaliated and initiated a scrum in front of the benches about a minute later, resulting in matching minor penalties for cross-checking at 13:04 by Backes (against McDonagh) and Joseph (against Clifton).
Cernak and Frederic each received a ten-minute misconduct and were sent to their respective dressing rooms early.
While even strength at 4-on-4, Grzelcyk (3) sent a one-timer top-shelf past Pasquale to bring the Bruins to within one-goal at 14:03 of the third period.
Pastrnak (43) and Krejci (53) recorded the assists and Boston trailed, 4-3.
With the secondary assist on Grzelcyk’s goal, Krejci tied a career-high in points (73) set in 2008-09.
Just 13 seconds after Grzelcyk pulled his team to within one, Coburn (4) floated a shot glove side from the blue line past Rask to make it, 5-3, Lightning at 14:16.
Cirelli (20) and Girardi (12) tallied the assists on the goal.
With 2:56 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.
Johnson (29) collected the empty net goal for the Bolts at 18:34 and made it an insurmountable, 6-3, lead for the Lightning.
Ondrej Palat (26) and Kucherov (87) had the assists on Johnson’s goal and Kucherov set the all-time record for points in a season by a Russian born player (41-87–128 totals).
At the final horn, the President’s Trophy winning, Tampa Bay Lightning finished the 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, Boston Bruins, 6-3, at TD Garden.
Boston finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (33-22– including a, 16-4, advantage in the third period alone) and blocked shots (9-8), while Tampa ended the afternoon leading in takeaways (10-9), giveaways (14-8), hits (27-25) and face-off win% (64-36).
The Bolts finished Saturday afternoon 1/3 on the power play and the B’s went 0/2.
The Bruins fell to 34-7-5 when scoring first this season and 2-1-0 in the month of April, while only losing ten games in regulation since Jan. 1st.