The Boston Bruins extended their win streak to four games with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night. In this potential playoff preview, the Bruins and Lightning battled each other tooth-and-nail for sixty-plus minutes. But it was the Bruins ultimately emerging victorious, completing a four game season series sweep of the Bolts.
If the playoffs had started Saturday, the Bruins and Lightning would have faced off. These teams competed with playoff intensity, tremendous physicality, and blood boiled in this one.
Reilly Smith potted the game winner in the seventh round of the shootout. Both Tuukka Rask and Ben Bishop turned aside one shooter after the next with highlight reel stops, but it was Rask who made the signature save that helped his team capture two points. Rask identified Victor Hedman‘s deke, dove out of his crease, and paddled the puck away before any move was attempted.
For Tampa Bay, the loss marked their fourth in a row, although it looked as if they were destined to snap their skid early on in the hockey game. Boston was sluggish out of the gate, poor in their own end and as result found themselves looking up at a two goal deficit.
Trailing by two goals in the second period, Daniel Paille scored a beauty of a goal rushing toward the net. The fourth line winger was able to stuff home a no-look backhander with the defense drapped all over him. Paille’s tally gave Boston’s fourth line five goals in their last five games.
The Big Swede, Carl Soderberg, tied the game up less than two minutes later. Soderberg deked Bishop out of his shoes and slid the puck five-hole on a breakaway. Chis Kelly sprung his linemate with a dead-eye long pass.
In a back-and-forth second period, Valterri Filppula benefited from a brutal defensive breakdown, and subsequently beat Rask for a big score on a half-empty net. Tampa Bay would take a 3-2 lead into the final frame.
Boston showed tremendous grit as they would once again battle back. Johnny Boychuk launched a bomb from the point that tied the game and secured one point for the Bruins before they went on to earn a second.
Rask’s stats are not all that impressive on first glance. He faced 2o shots and stopped 17 of them. But poor defensive play from Dougie Hamilton and a few mishaps by Matt Bartkowski directly led to several Lightning scoring chances. Claude Julien took notice and Hamilton saw the least ice-time of all the Bruins defenders. He barely played in the final period.
It would not come as a surprise to Andrej Meszaros crack the lineup Sunday against the Panthers.
The Bruins came back from two goals down for the first time this season. It may have been a step back on the defensive end, but the Bruins kicked-off their three-game road trip on the right foot.
Boston now has points in nine of their last 10 games.