In their most important game to-date of the 2016-17 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged with a crucial 6-3 road victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday evening.
After playing through a quiet opening frame in which neither team was able to get on the scoreboard, the action would explode with a flurry shortly after the start of period two.
The home-standing Bruins got on the board first when winger David Pastrnak capitalized on a power-play opportunity for his 32nd goal of the season. Less than one minute later, the Lightning responded with a goal of their own off the stick of red-hot centerman Brayden Point. Ondrej Palat and Jake Dotchin had the assists on Point’s 13th goal of the season. Palat now has points (a goal, six assists) in seven of his last eight games.
Special teams would factor in again four minutes later when Boston captain Zdeno Chara delivered a short-handed tally, his eighth goal of the season. Continuing what would become the trend of the night, Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning quickly answered back to tie the score at 2-2 less than thirty seconds after Chara’s goal.
In the third and final frame, the Lightning would take complete control of the action, tilting the ice toward the Boston end by consistently applying pressure on goaltender Tuukka Rask. Left winger Jonathan Drouin would break through with the go-ahead goal for Tampa Bay at the 4:12 mark of the third; blistering a slapshot past Rask from the top of the left circle. With his assist on Drouin’s go-ahead goal, Alex Killorn recorded his 100th career assist (344 games).
Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov would go on to add a pair of insurance goals, including one into an empty net, that would seal both a hat-trick for the 23-year-old winger and a 6-3 victory for Tampa Bay. Kucherov now has three career hat tricks (two this season).
The Lightning suffered another unfortunate injury when defenseman Jason Garrison went down tonight with what looked like a left leg injury.
The Tampa Bay Lightning win pulls them to within three points of the Bruins for the wild card. It could be down to one point with a win Friday in Detroit coupled with an Islanders loss in Pittsburgh.
It will be a quick turn-around for Tampa Bay, as the Lightning will now take a visit to Joe Louis Arena on Friday evening for a showdown against the Red Wings.
“It showed a lot of character. We didn’t let it bother us. We kept playing strong and got rewarded” – Anton Stralman on being down and rallying back three times.
“Didn’t look good.He couldn’t put any weight on his leg. We’ll have to see tomorrow. ” – Jon Cooper on Jason Garrison‘s injury.