Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning
Nikita Kucherov was a dominant force for the Tampa Bay Lightning and was the best player on the ice for either team in a game that Tampa Bay eventually took over. Kucherov finished with a hat trick and pulled into a tie with Brad Marchand in the goal-scoring race with his 37th score of the season after dropping two power play goals and an empty netter on the Black and Gold. Kucherov led Tampa Bay with six shots on net in 19:10 of ice time, was a plus-2 rating and has been a one-man wrecking crew trying to drag the Lightning back into the playoff picture kicking and screaming.
Tuukka Rask was strong early while keeping the Bruins in the game, but he fell apart as things went along just like the rest of the team. The third goal allowed in the second period was an odd-man rush, but Rask was square to Anton Stralman when he snapped a shot top corner over the Bruins goaltender’s glove hand for game-tying goal. Then in the third period Jonathan Drouin blasted a shot through Rask that went under his glove hand far side that served as the backbreaking game-winner for Tampa Bay. In all, Rask surrendered five goals on 28 shots, and simply wasn’t good enough to get the job done in a game that Boston absolutely needed.
The Bruins had all kinds of chances to seize control of the game in the second period when they scored three goals and took three separate one-goal leads against the Lightning. But each time the Bruins broke down, and allowed the Lightning to score within a minute, or 1:35 the third time it happened, to completely steal away the momentum. After doing it three times, it was pretty clear that the Bruins lacked the same kind of focus and clarity that Tampa Bay brought to the rink on Thursday night, and that’s a pretty unforgivable sin for the Bruins this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s all too familiar with them.
Riley Nash was one of the few Bruins that showed up, played hard, played smart and produced for the Bruins on Thursday night. He finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 rating and a shot on net in 11:19 of ice time while winning 3-of-6 face-offs along the way. The goal was a beauty in the second period where he wrapped around the back of the Tampa net, and then flipped the puck off a diving Victor Hedman that bounced right into the net. Unfortunately the Bruins gave that hard-earned lead right back to the Lightning just 1:35 later in the story of a rough, rough second period for Boston. But give Nash credit for being a line that actually brought energy and production to the table on Thursday night.
BY THE NUMBERS:
2 – the number of shorthand goals for Zdeno Chara this season. It’s the first time Chara has ever had multiple shorthanded goals in the same season in his 18-year NHL career.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“It is a focus, and it’s urgency. It’s understanding time and score. We did not have a good comprehension of that tonight, I don’t think, and of late. We’ve let games get away.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the Bruins lacking focus and concentration vs. Tampa and others as of late.