The power came back on across the South Shore of Massachusetts on Tuesday following the blizzard that swept through the state on Sunday night, but there was not much electricity in Tampa Bay as the Boston Bruins struggled to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3.
Things have not been all too festive for the Boston Bruins throughout this holiday season. The Bruins dropped four out of five games as Christmas approached, often looking effortless and disinterested over that span, even with a chance to take over first place in the Northeast Division on the line in those games. As a result of their play, the team has been under fire in the media of late with many calling out the team and its coach for their lackluster performances. Despite showing signs of life in their past two contests coming into the night, first in their dominating win over the Atlanta Thrashers just days before Christmas and then gutting out a come-from-behind, shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night, the Bruins looked lethargic again on Tuesday in Tampa, thrice letting the Lightning back in the game before finally tallying the game winner with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
As Michael Ryder capitalized on an early power play opportunity to put the Bruins ahead just 28 seconds into the contest, it looked as though the Bruins were ready to put in a performance like the one the last time these two teams met on December 2 when Boston laid an 8-1 beat down on the Lightning. After Sean Bergenheim was sent off for a cross-check, a Mark Recchi shot from the top of the circles went wide of the net, bouncing off the end board right to Ryder, who snapped it home past Tampa netminder Dan Ellis to give Boston the 1-0 lead. It was Ryder’s 11th goal of the season, seventh on the power play. Tampa, however, brought the score back to even about seven minutes later as Steven Stamkos scored a power play goal of his own, his 13th power play tally of the season.
Twice more the Bruins recorded goals early in a period to spot themselves one goal leads as rookie Steve Kampfer scored his first NHL goal 3:27 into the second and Brad Marchand, returning to the lineup after missing 10 days with an upper body injury, put away his fifth of the year 3:00 into the third. The Bruins seemed content to sit on both of these leads as well and put the game on the shoulders of goaltender Tim Thomas. Both times, however, Boston was unable to fend off the relentless Tampa attack and either successfully defend or extend their lead, the signature of their early season success. Vincent Lecavalier scored on a wrap-around to make the score 2-2 with just under six minutes to play in the second period, while Marty St. Louis beat his former University of Vermont teammate to record his 15th goal of the season and tie the game, 3-3, halfway through the final period.
Boston closed out the game in a similar fashion as they began things, scoring in the waning seconds of the game after Stamkos was sent off on a suspect boarding call at 18:10 of the third period. On the ensuing power play, Patrice Bergeron carried the puck into the attacking zone as the Tampa penalty kill collapsed in deep, centered to Recchi, who again fired a wrist shot from the tops of the circles. This time the shot connected and beat Ellis with just 19.7 seconds left on the clock.
Despite their spotty effort, the Bruins did record the win, which moved them into first in the Northeast Division past Montreal, who were shutout by the Capitals, 3-0, on Tuesday. Even with the Bruins seemingly on an upswing and starting to string together wins, there are still plenty of questions surrounding this team and their up-and-down play in relation to the rest of their season and their ultimate success this year, the first of which being which team will show up on Thursday as the Bruins’ road trip continues in Atlanta against the Thrashers? Will it be the hapless, lackluster Boston Bruins that suffered one of their worst loses of the season in a 4-1 loss to the Thrashers in November or the pugilist, Shawn Thornton led Bruins that literally and figuratively beat up the Thrashers in the dominating 4-1 win last week in Boston?
Post-Game Notes: Center Marc Savard recorded his 700th career NHL assist against Tampa when he set up Steve Kampfer’s first career NHL goal in the second period.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.