When the Tampa Bay Lightning left the ice after Friday night’s lackluster performance in a 5-3 loss to Columbus, they knew they would have to get back to basics and improve their work ethic against the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon, which admittedly was lacking in their previous game. Unfortunately for the Lightning, that increased compete level didn’t lead to an increase in scoring. And the Lightning (13-9-1) can blame Tuukka Rask and some very timely deflections near their own net for that.
Rask made 29 saves and the Bruins (12-10-0) got goals from four different players, as Tampa Bay dropped their second game in a row by a 4-1 score at the TD Garden in Boston. It was one of those games where good scoring chances were difficult to come by at times for the Lightning, and when they were there to be had, Rask slammed the door shut. On the other side, Boston did a fantastic job of getting traffic in front of Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who finished with 27 saves and took the loss in his second consecutive start. When Tampa Bay made mistakes, the Bruins were quick to pounce on them and put them in the back of the Lightning net.
Following a first period that featured the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov dropping the gloves with Boston’s Torey Krug, two squandered power play opportunities for the Bolts, and very few scoring chances for either team, Boston would break the ice early in the second period.
At the 2:24 mark, the Lightning won a faceoff but lost a battle on the boards with Ryan Spooner getting the puck back to Colin Miller at the point. Miller backhanded it on goal as three Lightning players had drifted up to the point. Former Tampa Bay forward Dominic Moore was in position in front of the net and chopped at the puck, deflecting it past Bishop for his sixth goal and a 1-0 Bruins lead. Tampa Bay struggled to generate much in the way of offense, and at the 11:45 mark, Jonathan Drouin took a tripping penalty. It didn’t take Boston long to capitalize, as a shot from the point by Krug was tipped in by David Backes, who was providing the screen in front of Bishop. Backes’s goal was assisted by Bergeron and Krug at the 12:30 mark, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Just a few minutes later, Tim Schaller nearly put Boston up 3-0 when he made a move to get around Victor Hedman, only to be turned aside by Bishop. With 2:27 to go in the second period, Jimmy Hayes got his first point of the season when David Krecji centered a pass that got redirected by Hayes into the net. The Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek was in position, but didn’t lift Hayes’s stick, allowing Hayes to put Boston up 3-0 going into the third period.
Boston would tack on another goal when David Pastrnak tossed a centering pass towards the front of the net towards Patrice Bergeron, where it bounced off of Tyler Johnson’s skate and into the net, giving the Bruins a 4-0 lead at the 9:43 mark. The Lightning would start to generate more scoring chances in the final period, most notably a sequence where Drouin and Brayden Point combined for four shots that Rask was able to deny. Those two were the Lightning’s best players throughout this game, and the Bolts were able to break Rask’s shutout bid with 2:39 left. Point worked the puck to Hedman, who tossed it in front to Drouin. However, the pass bounced off a Bruin’s skate and in, giving the Lightning their lone goal of the afternoon. It was Hedman’s fifth goal of the year, but it wasn’t officially credited him until after the game, as it had originally been awarded to Drouin, who finished with eight shots on goal.
The Lightning return to action for the second game of the road trip when they make their only visit to Nationwide Arena this season for a matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drops at 7 pm.
MY THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1st Star: Tuukka Rask – Made 29 saves, but was rarely challenged until the third period. When he was, made several timely saves when Boston needed them. Came within 2:39 of a shutout
2nd Star: David Backes – Backes’s power play goal put the Bruins up 2-0 in the second period, and the way the game was going for the Lightning, it was too much to overcome
3rd Star: Torey Krug – Finished with two assists and was a plus-2, firing the shot that got tipped by Backes on the goal that gave the Bruins a desperately needed cushion.