Bruins Shutout Lightning, 2-0

The Boston Bruins made great strides in returning to form Thursday night, blanking the Tampa Bay Lightning in convincing fashion, 2-0. A sold-out TD Garden crowd had a great deal to cheer about all evening long. Boston played with high emotion, passion, determination, and focus for the full sixty-minutes. A pair of scraps, timely goals, and a grind it out, physical style of play propelled the Black-and-Gold to a much needed confidence boosting victory.

The B’s win keeps them a top the Northeast Division, while remaining in position to lock up the number two overall spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston proved Tuesday night’s disheartening loss in Philadelphia was nothing more than a bad game, bouncing back in a big way. Many were questioning whether the Bruins are playoff ready and if they could get things turned around with less than a week left to play in the regular season. Claude Julien’s team answered many questions in triumph, certainly calming the doubters for the time being.

Boston openly confessed they are looking ahead to postseason play and it showed in their efforts put forth.

Team Records

Boston improved to 28-13-5, 61 Points

Tampa Bay fell to 18-25-4, 40 Points

Game Break Down

The Lightning opened the game methodically controlling play with a strong neutral zone presence, stifling Boston’s breakout attempts. Tampa Bay held Boston to only three shots on goal in the early going. Things looked bleak for the Bruins until Andrew Ference dropped the gloves with ex-Bruin Benoit Pouliot, pummeling the sizeable winger behind the Boston goal with a flurry of rights to the head. The crowd erupted in great pleasure and the Boston bench was visibly motivated by Ference’s actions.

The Bruins quickly turned the game in their favor, never looking back. They began to establish their offensive game and the scoring chances piled up. Boston and Tampa ended the first frame tied at 0-0. Most importantly, the B’s had considerable momentum heading into the second.

Early in the second period Dennis Seidenberg broke the scoreless tie, blasting a slapper by Anders Lindback, giving the B’s a 1-0 lead. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin both recorded assists on the score. Seidenberg’s goal ultimately proved to be the game winner.

Boston’s “merlot” line played an integral role in this one, providing invaluable energy on nearly each shift. Later in the second Shawn Thornton forced a turnover at the Tampa Bay line, chipped the back down the nearside wall to Gregory Campell, who then sent cross-slot pass over to Daniel Paille for a one timer goal. The Bruins

2-0 lead held up for the duration.

The Positives

Milan Lucic showed tremendous signs in returning to form, leading the Bruins with four hits in the tilt. The rugged winger played with reckless abandon, skating with efficiency, throwing his weight around at every chance he got. Lucic’s physicality instilled an intimidating feel to the game. He also dropped the gloves for the first time in over a month, brutally beating down Keith Aulie.

The Bruins offense appeared to be clicking much better than it had been showing of late. Claude Julien rolled all four of lines consistently and with chemistry, getting productive results from each them. The Paille-Campell-Thornton line and the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line stood out the most. Boston moved the puck crisply in its attacking zone, dominating the face off circle, controlling play for much of the game.

Tuukka Rask and the Bruins defense was outstanding. The pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg anchored the team on the back end, keeping two of the NHL’s leading scorers, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis quiet. Rask played with unflappable confidence, standing tall, making numerous highlight reel stops.

After being dethroned from the top spot in the NHL’s penalty killing rankings, Boston proved why they are one the best playing with a man down. A unit anchored by Chris Kelly, Greg Campell, and Patrice Bergeron killed off all three Lightning power plays.

The Negatives

Boston did have sixteen giveaways. At times they looked a bit sloppy. Fortunately they were able to make up for it with spot on goaltending. The Bruins outmuscled the Lightning attack, foiling many of their plays before they could come to fruition. Limiting the turnovers is something to keep an eye on with two games slated for this weekend.

Only two goals were needed in this contest, though it would be beneficial to start scoring more frequently. The Bruins cannot rely on Vezina caliber goaltending on a nightly basis. Potting more goals will help to sure things up come playoff time.

Turning Point

Andrew Ference’s bout woke the Bruins up. They responded with increased urgency and settled into the kind of game they want to play.

Player of the Game

Tuukka Rask: Shots against – 30, Goals Allowed – 0, Save Percentage – 1.000, 5th shutout of the season.

My Take

Only time will tell whether or not a victory of this caliber can be carried over into future games. It certainly is something the Bruins should be proud of and look to build upon. Boston had been lacking this sort of performance for some time now. They must take things in stride and remain hungry in order to better themselves. The Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals are next up for the B’s. Saturday’s showdown in D.C. should provide us with a better idea as to how they stack up against one the Conference’s best.

Frank O’Laughlin – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports


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