BOSTON – The Bruins had a tall order in front of them taking on the most explosive team in the NHL and doing it with Tuukka Rask in the net. A goaltender that has struggled for the balance of this season. But the Black and Gold surprised as they’ve made a habit of doing at points this season, and made a bold statement in taking out the Lightning in a 3-2 win over the Atlantic Division leaders at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
The B’s were all over the Bolts in the first period while outshooting Tampa Bay by a 19-6 margin, putting a couple of scores on the board against a Lightning team that was slow out of the gate playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Charlie McAvoy scored his third of the year on a point blast with traffic in front, but the goal was initially called back due to goaltender interference on Brad Marchand. A coach’s challenge overturned the original no-goal call on the ice, and momentum fell in the Bruins direction.
The first goal was followed with a wicked Riley Nash wrist shot that found the back of the net, thanks to a slick set-up from Danton Heinen. The Bruins went into the first intermission rolling with a two-goal lead. The Black and Gold extended their lead to three goals in the second period when D-man Torey Krug smoked a one-timer blast past Andrei Vasilevskiy, after Ryan Spooner dangled though a pair of Tampa defenders before finding the open D-man all alone in the face-off circle. Tampa fought back and scratched for one in the second on an Andrej Sustr blast from the point, but couldn’t get more despite a close call with a Tyler Johnson net drive off the post. Steve Stamkos closed it to a one-goal game in the third on a cross-ice pass from Nikita Kucherov in the opening seconds of the final stanza.
But that was all the Lightning could muster and they would eventually fall to the Bruins. Tampa has now lost four of their last six games in their first slide of the season.
Rask made eight of his 19 saves in the game during the third period protecting a tight one-goal lead, and captured his first win since the beginning of November to push his record up to 4-8-2 on the season. None of the rest of Rask’s 19 stops were as big as his second period leg pad stop on a Kucherov one-time, sweeping wrist shot in the closing seconds of the middle period that would have been a crushing, momentum-shifting score had he not stopped it.