BOSTON -- The Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning are two of the best teams in the NHL's Eastern Conference, and they played an exciting, hard-fought game Tuesday night at TD Garden.
It was the kind of hockey that makes you wish for seven playoff games between these teams in May.
The Bruins got the job done with a 3-1 victory, extending their win streak at home to begin the season to 13 games (a league record). The B's have the league's best record at 19-3-0.
Taylor Hall scored twice, Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal and goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves on 28 shots (.964 save percentage) for his fifth win of the season.
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The Bruins' next opponent is the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at the Garden.
But before we look ahead to that fantastic matchup, let's run down four takeaways from Bruins-Lightning.
1) Bruins' dominance at TD Garden continues
The Bruins set the NHL record for consecutive home wins to begin a season with their overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday.
They've extended that record to 13 games, and they didn't trail for a single second Tuesday night. In fact, the Bruins haven't trailed much at home this season. They've trailed in only three of their first 13 matchups at TD Garden, totaling just 57:05 ice time.
The crazy stats don't end there.
The Bruins have a league-best plus-28 goal differential at home (50 goals for, 21 against) and rank No. 1 in save percentage (.942).
Pushing this streak to 14 games will be a difficult challenge as the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche will be at the Garden on Saturday night. If the B's beat the Avs, the next opponent to try and halt Boston's record run at home will be Bruce Cassidy's Vegas Golden Knights.
2) Taylor Hall breaks out of goal slump
Taylor Hall entered Tuesday with only one goal in his last 11 games. He busted out of that slump in a huge way against the Lightning.
The veteran left winger, who began the game on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, opened the scoring just 67 seconds into the first period when he tipped a Brandon Carlo shot past Lightning goalie Andre Vasilevskiy.
After the Lightning evened the score late in the second period, Hall put the B's up 2-1 with a power-play goal at 2:49 of the third period.
In addition to scoring goals, Hall did a great job carrying the puck through the neutral zone and attacking Lightning defenseman off the rush. He was on the ice for eight scoring chances, including five individual scoring chances. The Bruins are a much better team when Hall is aggressive offensively and looking to score. If he can be a little more consistent scoring goals, the third line will be a huge weapon for the B's.
3) Bruins' penalty kill continues to struggle
The Bruins' penalty kill started the season ranked No. 1 in the league with a 94.6 percent success rate (35-of-37) over the first 10 games. This unit has failed to maintain anywhere close to that level of success during the last 12 matchups.
The B's gave up a power-play goal late in the second period when Lightning captain Steven Stamkos ripped a shot past Swayman to tie the score at 1-1. The Bruins penalty kill has now allowed a power-play tally in seven consecutive games.
Here's how Boston's PK has fared over that span:
- Nov. 13 vs. Canucks: 4-of-6
- Nov. 17 vs. Flyers: 3-of-4
- Nov. 19 vs. Blackhawks: 2-of-3
- Nov. 21 at Lightning: 2-of-3
- Nov. 23 at Panthers: 4-of-7
- Nov. 25 vs. Hurricanes: 4-of-6
- Nov. 29 vs. Lightning: 1-of-2
In total, that's a success rate of 64.6 percent (20-of-31) in the last seven games, which would rank dead last in the league.
Getting defenseman Derek Forbort back in the lineup should help the Bruins' penalty kill. He leads the team in shorthanded ice time per game and blocked shots. The Bruins' PK was the league's best before he suffered a broken finger on Nov. 1 against the Penguins.
But one man isn't going to save the penalty kill. It needs to be a total team effort.
4) Stamkos nearing historic milestone
Steven Stamkos is in his 15th season and still ranks among the league's most dangerous scorers, and the Bruins know that all too well.
Stamkos got the Lightning on the board with a power-play goal at 18:20 of the second period Tuesday night. It was his 13th goal of the season, giving him 27 points in 22 games.
The Lightning captain has fared quite well versus the Bruins in his career. Stamkos has now tallied 38 points (26 goals, 12 assists) in 46 career regular season games. The only opponent he has scored more goals against is the Florida Panthers (38).
This power-play tally also was the 999th career point of Stamkos' soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. There are eight active players with 1,000 or more points, and the most recent player to hit that mark was Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron earlier this month.
- Sidney Crosby
- Alex Ovechkin
- Patrick Kane
- Evgeni Malkin
- Anze Kopitar
- Eric Staal
- Nicklas Backstrom
- Patrice Bergeron
Ironically, Bergeron got his 1,000th point in the previous Bruins-Lightning matchup on Nov. 21 in Tampa Bay.