Lightning achieve 62 wins with 6-3 victory over Boston

The Tampa Bay Lightning closed out their historic regular season against the division rival Boston Bruins with a big 6-3 win and with a lot of NHL and player records on the line.

The first period got off to a slow start, as expected in a game that truly held no weight nor impact on playoff standing for either team. The Bruins got on the board first on a goal from Charlie McAvoy. Boston followed that up late in the first, netting the second goal in the game with just seconds remaining in the period to go 2-0 going into the first intermission.

But the Lightning would strike in the second period. The first penalty of the game came in the second, putting the Bolts on the power play. Erik Cernak capitalized with a beautiful snipe past Tuukka Rask to get the Bolts on the board.

Later in the period and on their first penalty kill of the game, Steven Stamkos buried one past Rask, taking advantage of a Boston pass to the blue line getting past David Pastrnak. The goal would be his 10th in as many games and put Stammer at 45 goals and a career-high 98 points on the season. Just four minutes later, Anthony Cirelli netted his 19th of the year, giving the Lightning their first lead of the game at 3-2.

If there is anything to learn from watching this Bolts team, it is that they can strike at an instant and battle back from a deficit.

The Bolts didn’t back down in the third, with Nikita Kucherov scoring less than a minute into the period. The goal would set a new career high in goals for Kucherov with 41 for the year.

Penalties to Mathieu Joseph and David Backes would lead to some 4-on-4 time and the Bruins would capitalize on the open ice, netting their third goal of the game past Pasquale. But the Bolts responded nearly immediately to the Matt Grzelcyk goal with Braydon Coburn launching one by Rask from barely inside the blueline.

An empty-netter by Tyler Johnson from Kucherov would not only seal the win at 6-3 for the Bolts, but it would tie Kucherov with Jaromir Jagr for assists in a season with 87.

The Lightning had a number of NHL records on the line including tying the NHL regular-season wins record at 62, winning 30 road games on the year and becoming the first team with a +100 goal differential in 13 years. Although these feats were on the line, this was clearly intended to be a “backburner” rather than a barn-burner game.

With multiple starters sitting this one out – Cedric Paquette, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman, Mikhail Sergachev – this was a game meant to rest playoff starters and provide valuable ice time for others. Cameron Gaunce found himself back in the defensive pairings for just the second time in a Lightning sweater while Eddie Pasquale made his third-career NHL start, providing Andrei Vasilevskiy some well-deserved rest before his inevitable starts coming in the playoffs.

Winger Danick Martel saw his first action since February in what was his ninth start in the Tampa Bay lineup. But the most notable Bolt making a return to the lineup was defenseman Dan Girardi.

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After missing 13 games with a lower-body injury, Girardi made his long-awaited return to the rink and got some invaluable ice time before the start of the playoffs. Girardi saw 18:58 minutes of action and will hopefully be better prepared for the intensity that comes with playoff hockey.

What an incredible year it has been for this Lightning team. They finish the regular season with their first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history, a 62-16-4 record, a +103 goal differential and tied for most wins in an NHL regular season with 62. Now begins the journey towards the ultimate goal: the team’s second-ever Stanley Cup.

The First Round starts next week and we will wait to see if the Bolts will face the Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes.