The last thing the Lightning wanted to do was go into overtime. Goaltender Mike Smith made sure they didn’t have to.
Tampa Bay won its second consecutive game and its fourth in the last five with a 2-1 victory over the Bruins that prevented Boston from winning its fourth straight.
Both the Lightning and Bruins entered the contest with 12 and 13 games, respectively, decided in either overtime or a shootout. But a strong defensive presence highlighted by a series of Smith saves towards the end of regulation earned the Bolts another pair of significant points in the standings through 60 minutes of play.
Smith, who appeared in a season-high fourth consecutive game, made 30 stops on 31 shots against. The Tampa Bay net minder, who has earned a win in three out of his last four starts including two in a row at home, stands just one victory shy of 50 for his NHL career. He was also honored as the game’s third star.
“Two in a row, that’s a pretty good stretch,” Smith said. “We beat a really good team. We’re fighting for our lives right now to get in the playoffs, so every game is big for us, especially the ones that are in our conference. Tonight we did a lot of good things. It’s definitely a building block.”
Alex Tanguay scored for the second straight game and Martin St. Louis extended his consecutive-game point streak to five, adding a goal on the power play that sent the Lightning into the third period with a two-goals-to-none advantage.
Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos also recorded points for the Lightning, totaling an assist each. The Lightning captain, who was named as the first star of the contest, has tallied seven assists in his last five games.
After Marco Sturm scored at 12:30 into the final frame, Smith held a strong presence in net, keeping the Bruins scoreless for the remainder of regulation. The Lightning penalty killing unit eliminated all three opposing power play chances, including burning off 54 seconds in the final minute and a half of regulation before the Bruins evened play with a penalty of their own.
“Everything that could have happened in the last five minutes did [happen] to our team,” Tampa Bay head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We were pretty resilient for sure. We played a hard-fought game.”
Tanguay opened scoring with one minute to play in the first period and St. Louis banged home a rebound off a Kurtis Foster slap shot at 19:48 on the power play to put the Bolts up by a pair as the second period came to a close.
Foster recorded his second assist of the night on the goal, which marked a season high. The Lightning defenseman, who has tallied six assists in his last five contests, also tied a season-high two points, which led all skaters.
“We have to grab some key wins here before we get back on the road,” St. Louis said. “Obviously we had a tough stretch there for a few weeks, but now we have to keep the ball rolling and the best way to do that is winning games.”
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