Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos scores twice in victory over Bruins

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scores twice as the Lightning defeats the Boston Bruins 3-2 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had an important task in front of them as they took the ice at the Amalie Arena tonight. Two days removed from picking up a much-needed victory over the Florida Panthers, the Lightning was back at it as they took on another Atlantic Division opponent, the Boston Bruins.

One could argue the Lightning had a bit of an advantage heading into tonight’s Atlantic Division showdown. Less than 24 hours ago, the Bruins suffered a 3-2 loss at the hands of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Taking on one of the best teams in the league can easily prove to be a daunting task.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the Lightning was able to sleep on the Bruins. The Lightning barely escaped the first meeting between them and the Bruins with the two points in hand. The Bolts would need to give a solid 60-minute effort if they wanted a repeat performance tonight.

The game kicked off with a little more fire than we’re used to. Just under 30 seconds into the game and Lightning forward Pat Maroon exchanged blows with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Not sure what started the scuffle between these two, but it definitely set the tone for the game early on.

As one can easily imagine, both players headed to the sin bin for the infraction. Both Maroon and Chara received five minutes for Fighting.

Shortly before the three-minute mark in the game, Mitchell Stephens had a pretty solid scoring chance. Regrettably for the Lightning rookie, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask was able to make the stop and keep the Lightning off the board.

The Bruins were quickly able to shift the momentum and make a move of their own. The Bruins would catch Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy off balance and Patrice Bergeron was quickly and easily able to put the puck in the back of the net to give the Bruins an early lead over the Bolts.

Things seemed pretty evenly matched between these to Atlantic Division rivals through the halfway point in the period. The Bruins led things on the scoresheet, but the Lightning and Bruins were fairly evenly matched in terms of Shots on Goal with the Lightning leading 3-1.

At 12:44 in the period, the Lightning would find themselves with the first Power Play of the night as Bruins defenseman John Moore headed to the sin bin for two minutes for Tripping against Alex Killorn. The Lightning wasn’t able to seal the deal on the Power Play, but they had some really good chances and put a lot of offensive pressure on the Bruins.

It took almost an entire minute of Power Play time for the Bruins to clear the zone on the Penalty Kill. The Lightning would continue to keep this kind of pressure on the Bruins, even after the Power Play came to a close.

When the buzzer sounded to end the first period of play, the Lightning would continue to trail the Bruins 1-0. While the Bolts didn’t make it onto the scoresheet in the first, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Bolts put a lot of offensive pressure on the Bruins and made them work to get control of the puck.

The Bolts would outshoot the Bruins 4-7 in the first period. Another area the Lightning would blast the Bruins in would be Hits, going 9-17 in the first. On the flip side, the Bruins decidedly controlled the Faceoff Circle in the first 20 minutes of play, going 64-36 over the Bolts.

If there was anything the Lightning could do better in the second period, it would be the Faceoff Circle. Otherwise, if the Bolts continued to do what they did in the first period, they would almost certainly see a reversal of fortune before the final buzzer sounded.

The Lightning would find themselves in a bit of hot water early on in the second period. After Jan Rutta gets into it with Brad Marchand, Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh would get a one-way ticket to the penalty box for Interference against David Krejci. The Bruins would put some decent pressure on the Bolts during the Power Play, but the Lightning’s special teams would hold strong and keep the Bruins out of the back of the net.

Things escalated very quickly for the Tampa Bay Lightning as the second period pressed on. Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli would get nailed with a knee-to-knee hit in open ice by Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Cirelli would go down hard and remain on the ice for much longer than any Lightning fan would’ve liked.

Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was having none of this garbage and immediately jumped in to defend his teammate. Of course, thanks to the stellar officiating staff, she said with great sarcasm, the Lightning would be headed to 4-on-4 hockey thanks to a matching penalty to Shattenkirk for Roughing.

The good news here is that Anthony Cirelli was back on the ice soon after the incident. The last thing the Lightning needs now is another solid player hitting the Injury List because of something completely unnecessary like Grzelcyk’s knee-on-knee to Cirelli.

It was at this point in the period the momentum shifted back into the favor of the Bruins. The Bruins would put a lot of pressure on the Lightning and a few ill-timed miscues would force Andrei Vasilevskiy to make a couple of huge saves to prevent the Lightning from going down 2-0.

It was just past the halfway point in the period when things started to change for the better for the Bolts. At 12:29, the Lightning would find themselves back on the Power Play as John Moore would pick up his second penalty of the night for, once again, Tripping against Alex Killorn. (Seems like we have a pattern forming here.)

A whole six seconds into the Power Play, the Lightning would make the Bruins pay for their transgressions. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would drill the puck home on the Power Play to pick up his 12th goal of the season with the assist from Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos has scored at least one goal in each of his last four games.

Moments later, the Lightning would have another solid scoring chance as Mitchell Stephens would charge the net with Carter Verhaeghe. Unfortunately, Tuukka Rask would make the stop and keep the young Lightning forward off the scoresheet once again.

At the beginning of the second, it seemed as if the Bruins had done a good job of seizing their opportunity and controlling the pace of the game. By the time the final minutes were ticking off the clock in the second, the Lightning had swiftly regained control of the game and was making the Bruins work for every single inch.

The Lightning needed to keep the fire burning in the third period if they wanted to close this game out and bring home a much-needed two points. The Bruins tried to quell some of that fire in the early moments of the period as Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo pokes the bear known as Cedric Paquette behind the Bruins net. The good news here is Paquette kept his cool and the Bruins didn’t walk away with a Power Play.

There was a bit of a scary situation that unfolded in the early part of the third period. Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk was crashing the Lightning net when he was taken down by Jan Rutta. DeBrusk would crash into Andrei Vasilevskiy and send Vasy and the goal crashing into the boards. Thankfully, no one was injured on the play. *Cue Wayne and Garth* Game on!

At 4:07 in the third, the Tampa Bay Lightning would capture their first lead of the game. It would be Brayden Point who would pick up his 11th goal of the season with assists from Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman. Kucherov’s assist on the Point goal would be his second assist of the evening.

Just past the halfway point in the third, the Tampa Bay Lightning would find themselves faced with another challenge. The Lightning would head to the Penalty Kill as Steven Stamkos made his way to the box for two minutes for Hooking against Charlie McAvoy.

The Bruins would attempt to throw off the Bolts by using their timeout around the halfway point in the Power Play. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to throw the Lightning off their game. Moments later, Anthony Cirelli would send the puck flying down to the other end of the ice, eating more time off the clock.

The Lightning would make strides towards ensuring they walked out of Amalie Arena with the much-needed two points. At 15:13 in the third period, Stamkos would pick up his second goal of the night, his 13th of the season, to extend the Lightning’s lead over the Bruins to two.

2. 70. 3. 23. Final

The Bruins weren’t exactly ready to limp their way back to Boston with their tails between their legs. At 16:45 in the third, just over a minute after the goal from Stamkos, John Moore would pick up his first goal of the season to once again make this a one-goal game. Moore was a thorn in the side most of the night for the Bolts, catching not one, but two penalties for Tripping against Alex Killorn.

There was just under two minutes left in the game with Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy would make the call for Tuukka Rask to head to the bench in order to get an extra attacker on the ice. The Bruins would keep the pressure on and make Vasilevskiy come up with some great saves.

It wouldn’t be long before there was a little scuffle in front of the Lightning net. Erik Cernak would exchange jabs with Brad Marchand in front of the net. Thankfully, neither would catch a penalty for the exchange.

The Bruins would make a solid attempt to force an overtime period, but they simply couldn’t make it happen. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lightning would pick up an important two points with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.

Despite a few miscues, the Lightning played a solid 60 minutes of hockey. Steven Stamkos picked up a pair of goals and Nikita Kucherov picked up a pair of assists, leading the way for the Bolts. Another player who made an impact in tonight’s game was Mitchell Stephens. While Stephens has yet to make his way to the scoresheet, it won’t be long before his efforts are rewarded.

The Lightning was two for three on the Power Play tonight. Stamkos and Point both picked up points with the man advantage. It was Stammer’s second goal of the night, not on the Power Play, which would ultimately be the game-winner.

The Tampa Bay Lightning truly needed a win like the one they picked up tonight. Not only did they deliver a solid victory against an Atlantic Division opponent, but they were able to string wins together and start a new streak moving forward.

The Lightning has tomorrow to rest and recover from tonight’s battle against the Bruins before they make their way back into the Amalie Arena to face off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The Capitals will be fresh heading into their contest with the Lightning. The last game the Caps played was their 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Capitals are currently the number one team in the National Hockey League right now with a 23-5-5 record through 33 games. The Lightning is going to have to keep momentum on their side and continue firing on all cylinders if they want to deliver a loss to the league-leading Capitals.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning has proven over the last two games they not only have the talent to be one of the best teams in the league, but they do remember how to win games and deliver decisive victories. There is still a lot of work to be done for the Lightning to get back on track, but if they continue to play the way they did against the Bruins tonight, they will certainly find themselves in a more advantageous position.