It started off as a positive sighting for the injury-riddled Boston Bruins as it matched the NHL's leading Tampa Bay Lightning 1-1 throughout two periods. But in the third, a pair of turnovers allowed the Lightning to strike twice, leading the way to the 3-2 victory for Tampa Bay at the Amalie Arena.
Louis Domingue provided a game-sealing effort for the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the first period, he stonewalled a promising chance from the Bruins to keep the score tied at one. In the final seconds of regulation he saved the last attempt from the Bruins to complete the victory. In the end, Domingue finished with 33 saves on 35 shots.
Tuukka Rask got the start in net against the league's most dangerous offense in terms of goals per game (3.86) and he was as solid as he has been since returning to the fold. Of the three goals allowed, two came following turnovers, and the third on an elongated possession by the Lightning. In the end, Rask finished with 27 saves on 30 shots.
One and One
The Bruins forecheck was clicking early and just 2:04 into the game the efforts paid off. With Ryan McDonagh looking to clear the zone from beside his own net, Colby Cave cut off the puck’s route, and fired a wrister toward the target. Domingue could not control the shot as the rebound fell to the ice before David Pastrnak finished off the possession with his 20th goal of the season for the 1-0 lead.
From there, the Lightning began to show how they got to the top of the NHL. After threatening for a goal on multiple occasions in the first period, the momentum shift came to a boil with the game-tying goal five minutes before the end of the period. Nikita Kucherov’s hypnotizing backhanded pass to Brayden Point capped off a long stay in the offensive zone, with Point finishing the one-time attempt for his 21st goal of the season.
Pastrnak nearly got the lead back for Boston inside the final two minutes of the period. After moving the puck through the neutral zone, Pasta earned a one-on-one with Domingue. But the Tampa Bay netminder stood his ground on a goal-scorer's move, using his leg pad to block the elevated shot attempt.
Happened in a Flash
Tampa Bay withstood a Boston Bruins led second period, and as a result the score remained tied 1-1. But in the third period it did not take long for the Lightning offense to get involved.
Just 2:40 into the final frame, the Lightning gained their first lead of the contest when a turnover by Brandon Carlo was scooped up in the neutral zone. From there, a sequence of two quick passes involving Dan Girardi and Alex Killorn got the puck up to Mathieu Joseph who pushed it through the five-hole of Rask to go-ahead on the scoreboard.
Moments later, Tampa Bay made the deficit a little harder to overcome, converting a goal from another gut-wrenching turnover by Boston. This time the miscue happened in the offensive zone -- and while on the powerplay to boot -- as Anthony Cirelli intercepted the puck in front of a Bruins defender before skating down ice and beating Rask on the one-on-one chance.
Return of the Mac…Avoy
After nearly a month and a half on the shelf with lingering concussion symptoms, Charlie McAvoy returned to the Boston Bruins lineup.
The pleasant surprise comes three days after joining the team at practice, and although at that time it remained unclear when he would see game-action, fans got the notice early Thursday that the second-year defenseman was to be activated prior to the tilt with the Lightning.
After passing his final test during team warm-ups in the pregame, he was penciled into the starting lineup. And due to his time off, head coach Bruce Cassidy even considered a seven-man defensive rotation. Instead, the Bruins remained with six as Jeremy Lauzon drew a healthy scratch.
McAvoy played a typical large bulk of minutes, finishing second amongst all Bruins skaters with 21:02 TOI, but it was pretty obvious he needs to be re-adjusted. The first goal of the game from the Lightning came when McAvoy fell to the ice under his own doing as he stepped on the puck with his skate. He was also responsible for the lone penalty of the game, hooking Point late in the first period.
Regardless of his play on Thursday, McAvoy adds a much welcomed boost to an injury affected roster that is still without Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron among others.
Boston returns home from Florida, but have another challenge on the horizon as the second place Toronto Maple Leafs visit the TD Garden on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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