The Tampa Bay Lightning turned the tables on the Boston Bruins.
Boston, who came in with the NHL’s stingiest defense highlighted by a 1.90 team goals-against average, allowed three goals, while Lightning net minder Mike Smith stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Lightning beat the Bruins 3-1 at the St. Pete Times Forum Monday night.
The win was Tampa Bay’s fourth straight, and marked the team’s first four-game winning streak since Feb. 2 to Feb. 9 of last season. Boston, meanwhile, dropped just its second contest in regulation on the road and lost its second straight overall after winning the previous three.
“There were some players who played a very solid game for us,” center Steven Stamkos said. “It was huge win versus a very good team in the Eastern Conference. We’re on a roll right now.”
Boston entered the contest with an NHL-best 33 goals allowed, but gave up all three in the second period against the Lightning after allowing just two in three out of its previous four games.
Tuukka Rask earned the start over scorching hot teammate Tim Thomas and made 33 saves.
The former first overall pick became the fastest player in Lightning history to score 20 goals, reaching the plateau in just 21 games, and has 10 in his last nine contests.
“What more can you say about Stamkos?” Boston Head Coach Claude Julien said. "He’s on fire. Give him an opportunity and he’s going to take advantage of it.”
Stamkos made it 2-0 at 5:15 when he shoveled in a shot from the top of the crease after taking a feed from Martin St. Louis. The goal came less than two minutes after Tyrell opened scoring with a deflection of Randy Jones’ shot from the top of the point.
“It’s nice,” Stamkos said of hitting the 20-goal mark. “But I just want to keep going. I just want to chip in offensively whenever I can to help this team win games. However many goals you get, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re helping the team win.”
The Lightning outshot Boston 36-27, including 31-15 through two periods.
“To win a hockey game, you have to play all 60 minutes and that’s something that we didn’t do,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “Basically for the first 40 minutes Tampa Bay was dominating the game and they deserved to win.”
Purcell stretched the lead to three at 11:36 to cap the second-period scoring. He has goals in two straight and six points in his last seven games.
Michael Ryder’s tip-in at 10:38 in the final frame spoiled Smith’s shutout bid, but a joint effort between the Lightning goaltender and his defensive teammates in front of him helped Tampa Bay to its second win in the last five against the Bruins.
“In all of our games, our whole defensive corps has been making it a lot easier on myself,” Smith said. “I’m making some saves, but our defense in front of me has played tremendous.”
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