It was fight night at TD Garden on Saturday as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3, in a game that had over 90 penalty minutes and multiple brawls.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (35-13-3 record, 2.57 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 51 games played) made 35 saves on 38 shots against (.921 SV%) in the win for the Lightning.
B’s netminder, Tuukka Rask (25-8-6, 2.18 GAA, .926 SV% in 40 games played) stopped 20 out of 24 shots faced for an .833 SV% in the loss.
Tampa took the season series 3-1-0 and improved to 43-20-5 (91 points), but the Bolts remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division to the Bruins who are now 43-14-12 (98 points) on the season, as well as 22-4-9 on home ice.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Saturday night.
Prior to the game, however, Clifton was activated from the injured reserve, which means he’ll likely be back in the lineup sometime next week if all goes well at practice.
Karson Kuhlman was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) to make way for Clifton’s activation.
With Carlo out of the lineup, John Moore took over the right side of the second defensive pairing with Torey Krug, while Bruce Cassidy made two minor changes among his forward lines from Thursday night’s, 2-1, overtime victory in Florida to Saturday night’s battle with the Lightning.
Cassidy moved Sean Kuraly up to the right wing of the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle, while shifting Chris Wagner down to the right side of the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom at left wing and Par Lindholm at center.
Anders Bjork and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Tampa.
Early in the opening frame, Barclay Goodrow delivered a blow to Bruins forward, Ondrej Kase, with the elbow and received a minor infraction at 5:01 of the first period.
The ensuing power play for Boston was disastrous as the B’s allowed two shorthanded goals before Goodrow was allowed to return to the ice.
First after Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff in the direction of the point, Anthony Cirelli (16) snuck in and stole the loose puck, skated to the opposite zone and sniped a shot past Rask on the blocker side for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 5:08 of the first period– giving Tampa the game’s first lead, 1-0.
Cirelli’s goal marked the 19th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice.
Almost a minute later, Yanni Gourde worked the puck from deep in the corner to Mikhail Sergachev (10) in the low slot for the one-timer past Rask’s glove side.
Gourde (18) had the only assist on Sergachev’s goal and the Bolts led, 2-0, at 6:10 of the opening period.
After Goodrow returned to the ice from the penalty box, Wagner tried to engage No. 19 in blue and white in a fight for the actions Goodrow took against Kase in the first place that Wagner did not think highly of, but the two only tugged and grabbed at each other before the officials intervened and handed out matching unsportsmanlike conduct minors at 8:39.
The game shifted to 4-on-4 for two minutes until the minor penalties would expire.
Seconds after the two players emerged from the box, Wagner and Goodrow dropped the gloves in an agreed upon exchanging of the fisticuffs at 10:45 in what was the 19th fight this season for the Bruins and 12th since Jan. 1st.
Moments later, Braydon Coburn was guilty of holding DeBrusk and presented Boston with their second power play opportunity of the night at 12:20.
This time the Lightning didn’t score any shorthanded goals.
Tampa got their first chance on the power play at 19:14 of the first period when Jeremy Lauzon was sent to the box for interfering with Pat Maroon.
The Bolts did not score on the skater advantage, despite its overlap into the second period.
After 20 minutes of action in Boston, the Lightning led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 14-5.
Tampa also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6), takeaways (3-1), hits (12-5) and faceoff win percentage (64-36).
Both teams had two giveaways aside, while the Bolts were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2.
Cedric Paquette (7) kicked off the second period with a goal to make it, 3-0, for Tampa after Boston’s defense was caught out of position and the Lightning forward snuck into the slot for a one-timer from point-blank.
Zach Bogosian (6) and Coburn (3) had the assists on Paquette’s goal at 6:50 of the middle frame and the Lightning thundered their way to three unanswered goals for a three-goal lead.
Past the midpoint of the second period, four Lightning skaters took a chance to jump one Bruins player while said player tried to play the puck along the wall.
That player was Brad Marchand– whether it was justified or not– and a scrum ensued as all ten skaters on the ice piled on top of one another.
Cirelli and Marchand both headed for the sin bin with matching roughing minors– meaning the two teams would once again spend a couple of minutes skating 4-on-4 at 14:13 of the second period.
While on the ensuing even-strength, 4-on-4, action, Charlie McAvoy (5) snuck up on a rush with Coyle and DeBrusk and beat Vasilevskiy on the glove side to put Boston on the scoreboard and cut into Tampa’s lead.
Coyle (21) and Matt Grzelcyk (17) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 14:50.
Almost four minutes later, Kuraly (6) poked a loose puck in the crease just over the goal line before Point was able to scoop it back out from the net and into play without any officials on the ice picking up on the fact that a goal had indeed been scored.
As play continued for about 90 additional seconds, the video room in Toronto signaled to TD Garden that there had been a goal on the play and instructed the arena to use the siren to indicate an overrule by the video room.
But as that happened, all hell broke loose.
McAvoy (27) and Kase (17) were credited for the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 18:37 as Kuraly got entangled in a line brawl that resulted in a misconduct for No. 52 in black and gold and a list of penalties for players on the ice and even a Lightning staff member on the bench!
The Bruins trailed, 3-2, as Zdeno Chara fought Maroon (each received five minutes for fighting), Erik Cernak and Kuraly traded misconducts and Tampa was assessed a bench minor for delay of game and a game misconduct for Todd Richards’ verbal abuse of an official at 18:37 of the second period.
The chaos didn’t end after the already lit fuse had sparked once more.
At the end of the second period, more shoves were exchanged and words shouted, leaving Marchand with a slashing minor against Blake Coleman, a misconduct for Coleman and a misconduct for Nick Ritchie at 20:00.
Heading into the second intermission, Tampa led on the scoreboard, 3-2, but trailed Boston in shots on goal, 26-15.
The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (14-10) and giveaways (7-4) after 40 minutes of play, while the Lightning led in takeaways (5-3), hits (25-20) and faceoff win% (63-38).
Boston was 0/4 on the power play and Tampa was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.
Just 68 seconds into the third period, Alex Killorn (26) tipped a shot from the blue line past Rask under the Boston goaltender’s blocker and into the twine to make it, 4-2, for the Bolts.
Killorn’s power play goal was assisted by Sergachev (24) and Point (39) at 1:08 of the third period and was not challenged despite initial concern from Rask that Killorn’s stick might have been above the crossbar.
Almost four minutes later, Nikita Kucherov cross checked Grzelcyk and was sent to the box at 5:48.
This time the Bruins capitalized on the skater advantage with a one-timed power play goal from the point by David Pastrnak (48) to make it a one-goal game.
Krug (40) and Marchand (58) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 6:37 of the third period and the B’s cut Tampa’s lead to, 4-3.
About two minutes later, Bergeron sent the puck out of play without touching anything else and received an automatic delay of game minor penalty– in addition to a roughing minor after Goodrow and several other skaters on the ice met for one last rouse.
Krug and Mitchell Stephens joined Bergeron in the box with roughing minors, while the Lightning went on the power play one last time at 8:43 of the final frame.
Moments later, Tyler Johnson hauled Kase down with a hook, but Kase was also hit by an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction for embellishing the penalty in the officials’ eyes and presented both sides with more 4-on-4 action at 13:10 of the third period.
With 1:48 left in the game, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was too little, too late as Jon Cooper’s Lightning outmatched Boston’s last-ditch effort.
David Krejci misplayed the puck while skating out of his own zone into the neutral zone and gave the rubber biscuit directly to Kucherov (33) for the empty net goal at 18:58– sealing the deal on Tampa’s, 5-3, victory over the Bruins in Boston.
At the final horn, the Bolts had won, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-25.
Boston wrapped up Saturday night’s loss with the advantage in blocked shots (19-14) and giveaways (11-6), while Tampa led in hits (30-26) and faceoff win% (57-43).
The Lightning finished the night 1/2 on the skater advantage and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play in the game.
Boston fell to 18-7-4 when allowing the game’s first goal (10-2-3 at home in that span), 6-7-3 when trailing after one period (4-2-2 at home in that span) and 5-11-4 (5-4-3 at home in that span) when trailing after two periods this season.
Tampa, on the other hand, improved to 30-9-2 (13-5-2 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 23-2-3 (11-2-2 on the road) when leading after one period and 31-1-4 (14-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
The B’s begin a two-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday (March 10th) before traveling to Buffalo next Friday (March 13th).
The Bruins then return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs next Saturday (March 14th) and host the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16th before heading out to visit the three California teams later that week.
The Flyers, in the meantime, are on a nine-game winning streak and host the Bruins on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.