BOSTON – The Tampa Bay Lightning walked in to this afternoon’s game at TD Garden a much better team than they had been last month when they faced the Boston Bruins. Yet they ended up walking away a very different team, losing three players in the process.
After keeping the Bruins at bay for just over 30 minutes of play, despite tremendous offensive pressure, the Bolts unraveled at the seams midway through the second, beginning with the huge loss of superstar center Steven Stamkos to a broken right tibia. That was followed by two goals in 20 seconds from the Bruins, the loss of Sami Salo and Keith Aulie and concluded with a 3-0 shutout led by Tuukka Rask.
“He’s a big part of our team, but I thought we battled, we just couldn’t get the puck in the net,” St. Louis said. “It’s a big loss, but we’ve been winning games as a team and we’re going to have to continue doing that. We’re going to have to raise our game collectively, you don’t replace Stamkos. Guys are going to have to step up.”
With 7:11 left in the second period, Stamkos’ right leg crashed into the Lightning net while on the back-check. He tried to get up momentarily, but immediately dropped to the ice, as he slammed his fists to the ice and winced in pain. Stamkos was then taken off the ice in a stretcher and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for evaluation.
Then Tampa Bay, still in shock, gave up back-to-back goals in a span of 20 seconds. First the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron scored to break the scoreless game after a scramble in front of the net at 17:09 of the middle frame. At 17:29 came the second tally, as Danielle Paille dragged the puck around Lindback and lifted it past him from the right side of the net.
The game ended with an empty-netter from Jarome Iginla with less than a minute remaining in the game.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay closes out a three-game road trip in their second game of back-to-backs Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bolts return to the ice Thursday for a home game against the Anaheim Ducks, before embarking for the West Coast for games against the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Ducks.