Bruins fans were treated to another win over the Big Bad Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night, at TD Garden. With the 4-2 victory the Bruins move into first place in the Atlantic Division, and Eastern Conference. It is the first time since October 18th that a team not named the Tampa Bay Lightning are in first place. This is the third time the Bruins have beaten the Lightning this season, and they haven’t lost to them since 2016.
Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara were both game time decisions, and Butchy decided to give them both one more day to rest. Neither suited up for this one, but David Backes returned to the lineup after missing about a week due to a cut on his leg. Matt Grzelyck surprisingly suited up for this one after taking the brutal hit from Josh Morrisey just two nights prior.
The first period saw the Bruins come out with major jump in their step. They were all over Tampa, generating turnovers, and quality scoring chances. The Bruins out-shot the Lightning 17-6 in the first period. Finally with less than a minute to go, Tim Schaller buried home a rebound that was sitting behind Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0 Bruins.
Less than 40 seconds later David Pastrnak added another Power Play goal to make it 2-0 Bruins. At the end of the period the Bruins scored two back breaking goals.
The two goals lit a fire under Tampa’s ass, as they picked up their skating in the second period, and the game got physical. Just under 2 minutes into the Second Period J.T. Miller re-directed a gorgeous Nikita Kucherov cross-ice slap pass to make it 2-1.
This is where this one got interesting. Both teams ramped up the physicality in the second period, and this lead to tempers flaring. Bruce Cassidy has had a motto throughout the season which is, “No Passengers” . Everyone must contribute, everyone must be emotionally invested. Boy, did Tuukka Rask every show that he was emotionally invested into this one:
AHL MVP Cory Conacher overstayed his welcome in Rask’s crease, and well, Rask lost it. A mini melee ensued, and Vasilevskiy even tried to get down to the Bruins end of the Ice to challenge Rask, but the officials would not let it happen. There’s an unwritten rule in hockey that when there is a brawl/scrum, there should never be an odd man situation (one guy standing free). That’s generally when the goalie from the opposing team has to skate down and challenge the other goalie. We were robbed of a goalie fight here thanks to the fucking stripes. Although, it is good to see there is a hatred brewing between these two teams. Hell, David Backes challenged Bolt players on their own fucking bench!
The kicker? David Pastrnak dropped the mitts with Lightning Defenseman, Dan Girardi. Girardi leveled Bergeron in the Neutral Zone, and Pasta was willing to go with a much bigger, more experienced fighter in Giradi. It was Pastrnak’s first career fight, and it would top off his Gordie Howe Hat-trick(goal, assist, and fight in same game). Pastrnak had never fought before, and obviously isn’t expected to be good at it. Well he isn’t. It wasn’t much of a fight, but it showed these guys are more than willing to stick up for one another.
With 8 minutes left to play in the third, and the teams playing 4 on 4 hockey, the Bruins completed the sexiest passing play I have seen in my 25 years:
Just a beautiful fucking goal, in which the Bruins toyed with the Big Bad Lightning. A beautiful triangle passing play ending in a goal to make it 3-1. First place was within sight late in the third. The Bolts wouldn’t make it easy, as Victor Hedman squeaked home a wrist shot to make is 3-2. This coming mere minute after the Bergeron goal.
Brutal fucking goal to give up. Rask was locked in all game giving up that goal through his armpit is inexcusable. The B’s would hold on to win 4-2 and take over first place in conference and division.
They may not finish the season in first place as they are only 1 point ahead of the Lightning, but the Bruins showed that they are ready for postseason play, and are in the Bolts heads. You could see the frustration as the game went along. The Bruins bullied them, and I cannot wait for the playoffs to start. Initially I had thought the Lightning were a shoe-in to win the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay is fucking soft. The Bruins beat them soundly in each of the three match-ups this season, and haven’t lost since 2016. For whatever reason, the Bruins have always matched up well with Tampa no matter how good or bad they are. Tampa looks like a team that is starting to slowly run out of gas. It will be interesting to see how far they are able to go. They absolutely 100% have the talent to make it to the Cup finals. It’s whether or not they have the balls. The Bruins certainly showed they have the balls to beat you physically and on the scoreboard.
Bruins will take on the Florida Panthers tomorrow at TD Garden. It looks like Cassidy is going to sit Chara and McAvoy again on Saturday, but they will travel to with the team to Philadelphia on Sunday. Jake DeBrusk is slated to return per Butchy:
The Panthers are fighting for playoff position, as they come in 6 points out of the final playoff spot. Should be a good one, let’s go Bruins!