The Lightning returned from the All Star Break playing like the desperate team they are. They needed to string some wins together in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Standing in their way tonight were the division rival Boston Bruins.
In a bit of a surprise, Tampa managed to edge the Bruins when it came to physicality in the first period. The Bolts outshot Boston 8-4 and registered 13 hits. Alex Killorn faced off against Jimmy Hayes in a brief scuffle. Jason Garrison managed to get a shot past Tuukka Rask but Collin Miller pulled it back before the puck fully crossed the line. Cedric Paquette was only credited with three hits but he seemed to be checking anything that moved. Ben Bishop stopped the four shots he faced and the first twenty minutes ended without a goal being scored.
The second period saw a hard hitting, defensive game continue. Tampa struck first when Alex Killorn opened the scoring at 8:41. High in the zone, Killorn took a pass from Victor Hedman and got the shot through traffic. The ice tilted in the Bruins’ favor as the second went on. Both teams kept up the hard hitting, defensive pace. Anton Stralman and Matt Beleskey took penalties late in the period. Boston capitalized on deflected shot from Patrice Bergeron to tie the game. Tampa let up a bit in the closing seconds and got burned. David Krejci scored with 0.9 seconds left to give the visitors the lead after 40 minutes.
Alex Killorn continued having a monster game by scoring his second of the night at 4:46 of the third period. The celebration was short lived as a trademark slapshot from Zdeno Chara gave Boston a one goal lead once more at 7:51. The third period action was fast and furious with the teams getting chances at both ends of the ice.
Boston widened their lead to 4-2 on a Frank Vatrano power play goal. Head coach Jon Cooper took a chance in pulling Ben Bishop with more than two minutes to go. The gamble paid off as the returning Brayden Point deflected a Hedman shot to bring the Bolts within one. The Lightning were unable to tie the game even with the man advantage and the final score stood at 4-3. As time expired Victor Hedman broke his stick in frustration on the empty net.
The Bruins out shot the Lightning 35-21. One bright spot for the Lightning was the play of Jake Dotchin, recalled recently from the Syracuse Crunch. Dotchin registered 20:25 in ice time, third among defensemen. He also registered his first career NHL point with an assist on Point’s third period goal.
Tampa Bay will host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at 7:30 PM.