A three-goal third period comeback punctuated the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday night at Amalie Arena after Tampa originally allowed three goals against in the second period.
Steven Stamkos had a pair of goals and Anthony Cirelli had the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation, while Andrei Vasilevskiy (37-9-4 record, 2.36 goals against average, .927 save percentage in 50 games played) stopped 13 out of 17 shots faced (.765 SV%) in the win for the Lightning.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (26-11-5, 2.42 GAA, .915 SV% in 43 GP) made 23 saves on 28 shots against (.821 SV%) in the loss.
Boston fell to 46-21-9 (101 points) on the season, but remained in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Tampa improved to 59-14-4 (122 points) on the season and in command of the entire league, having already clinched the President’s Trophy this season.
The B’s fell to 28-2-3 when leading after two periods, 8-4-0 in the month of March and 18-14-6 on the road this season as a result of the loss– just their seventh in regulation since Jan. 1st.
Kevan Miller (upper body), Marcus Johansson (lung contusion), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Torey Krug (concussion) and Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) all remained out of the lineup, despite Johansson being a game-time decision.
As a result, Karson Kuhlman remained on the second line right wing alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci since his emergency recall from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Saturday.
Bruce Cassidy left the rest of his lineup the same as in Saturday night’s matchup against the Florida Panthers.
Stamkos (40) tipped momentum in favor of the Lightning after blasting one of his patented one-timers past Rask at 6:42 of the first period to give Tampa the lead, 1-0.
Ryan Callahan (10) and Mikhail Sergachev (21) tallied the assists on the goal.
Less than a minute later, Tampa’s leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov hooked David Pastrnak and was assessed a minor penalty at 7:28.
While on the power play, the Bruins tied the game with a power play goal from Brad Marchand (33) while Vasilevksiy dove in desperation thanks, in part, to a blind pass through traffic from Pastrnak to Marchand for the one-timer after Pastrnak received the puck from Patrice Bergeron.
Pastrnak (38) and Bergeron (43) had the assists on Marchand’s goal at 8:32 of the first period and the B’s tied the game, 1-1.
With his assist on the goal, Bergeron established a new career-high in points in a season with 74 points in 60 personal games played this season– surpassing his previous career-high of 73 points in 81 games in 2005-06.
Bergeron’s new career-high in points, of course, comes at the youthful age of 33-years-old.
Late in the opening frame, Stamkos (41) added his second goal of the game on a nearly identical one-timer from his usual spot on the ice to give Tampa the lead, 2-1.
Victor Hedman (42) and Sergachev (22) notched the assists on Stamkos’ second goal at 14:58 of the first period.
Shortly thereafter, Bruins defender, John Moore was crumpled by Adam Erne on a hit that left Moore favoring his left arm as he went down the tunnel to the visiting dressing room.
He did not return to Monday night’s action and was ruled out by the Bruins communication staff early in the second period.
J.T. Miller hooked Danton Heinen at 17:45 and Alex Killorn tripped Bergeron at 18:32, leaving Boston with an abbreviated 5-on-3 skater advantage for about 1:14 until a regular power play would resume.
The B’s did not convert on either power play opportunity.
Through one period, Tampa led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 9-4. The Bolts also led in blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (4-2) and hits (15-10), while the B’s managed an advantage in giveaways (2-1) and face-off win percentage (55-46).
The Lightning did not see any time on the power play entering the first intermission, while the Bruins were 1/3 on the skater advantage.
Kuhlman received a two-minute minor infraction for holding Sergachev at 5:05 of the second period, sending the Lightning on their first power play of the night.
Tampa did not convert on the ensuing opportunity.
Moments later, Charlie Coyle (12) tied the game, 2-2, after David Backes stole the puck in the offensive and fed Coyle with the puck on his stick.
Coyle deked and scored on the backhand at 8:42 of the second period with Backes (13) yielding the only assist on the goal.
Boston began to unwind over the course of the second and third period in discipline as Zdeno Chara hooked Kucherov at 9:46 of the middle frame, but the Bolts were powerless on the power play.
Brandon Carlo (2) sniped a shot past Vasilevksiy’s glove side for his first goal in 44 games at 13:41 of the second period.
Krejci (46) and DeBrusk (13) were credited with the assists as the Bruins led for the first time of the night, 3-2.
About a minute later, Marchand (34) rocketed a one-timer wide of the goal that caromed off the glass and bounced off of Vasilevskiy’s skate and trickled into the net.
Pastrnak (39) and Bergeron (44) had the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the night and the Bruins had scored three unanswered goals to lead, 4-2, at 14:32 of the second period.
After 40 minutes of play, Boston led on the scoreboard, 4-2, but trailed Tampa in shots on goal, 19-12.
The Lightning also led in blocked shots (9-6), takeaways (6-5), hits (24-15) and face-off win% (51-49), while the B’s led in giveaways (3-2).
Tampa was 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/3 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.
The Lightning thundered their way back into the game with three unanswered goals of their own in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit and beat the Bruins.
Hedman (12) kicked things off with a goal at 5:36 of the third period to bring Tampa within one, 4-3, after he followed through on Stamkos’ shot that went wide and redirected off the end boards behind the net.
Stamkos (51) and Miller (31) had the assists on Hedman’s goal and the Bolts set the tone for the final frame of regulation.
The comeback was imminent.
Pastrnak caught Ryan McDonagh with a high-stick and was assessed a four-minute double minor penalty at 6:45.
Boston successfully managed to go unscathed during their extended penalty kill, but couldn’t muster anything past Vasilevskiy.
Midway through the third period, Kucherov (38) pounced on an odd-skater advantage that fell flat for the Bruins and wristed a shot past Rask after Stamkos led the charge the other way.
Stamkos (52) had the only assist on Kucherov’s goal at 13:50 and the game was tied, 4-4.
Charlie McAvoy hooked Brayden Point at 17:02 and presented the Lightning with yet another power play.
Though the B’s managed to kill the penalty off, they were trapped in the vulnerable minute thereafter and failed to clear the puck out of their own zone.
Instead, Tampa kept the pressure on Boston and forced the puck to Cirelli (18) in the high-slot for the goal that gave the Bolts the lead, 5-4, at 19:07 of the third period.
Mathieu Joseph (12) and McDonagh (33) had the assists on the game-winning goal with 52.2 seconds left in regulation.
Cassidy used his timeout after Cirelli’s goal to try to draw up a plan, but his efforts were thwarted after Marchand picked up an interference penalty at 19:22.
For the first time since Jan. 14th in Philadelphia against the Flyers, the Bruins had blown a two-goal lead to lose in regulation.
At the final horn, Tampa had won, 5-4, and finished the night leading in shots on goal (28-17), blocked shots (11-10), hits (33-22) and face-off win% (54-46).
The B’s led in giveaways (5-4) and went 1/3 on the power play, while the Lightning finished Monday night 0/6 on the skater advantage.
The Bruins return home– after going 3-1-0 on their four-game road trip– to face the New York Rangers on March 27th, then host the Florida Panthers on March 30th before traveling to Detroit on the 31st to close out the month.
Boston finishes the season swinging through Columbus on April 2nd, making a stop in Minnesota on April 4th and wrapping up the regular season on April 6th at home against the Lightning.