The Tampa Bay Lightning had lost 10 straight to the Boston Bruins prior to Sunday’s game.
One shift into their third meeting of the season, the Buins’ domination over the Lightning looked like it would continue.
Boston scored 33 seconds into the game, but the Lightning countered with three unanswered goals in the first period to defeat the Bruins 5-3 in front of a sold out crowd (19,204) at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay (45-21-7, 97 points) beat Boston (36-25-12, 84 points) for the first time since March 13, 2012, three seasons prior.
The Lightning improve to 17-3-3 versus teams from the Atlantic Division and 1-1-1 against the Bruins in 2014-15.
“They’ve had our number for a while, so it’s definitely good to finally get a little payback on them,” Tampa Bay forward J.T. Brown said.
Stamkos and Marchand grabbed and pulled at each other until Stamkos tossed Marchand to the ice and landed on top of the Boston forward.
Stamkos’ response to Marchand’s unnecessary hit brought the Amalie Arena crowd to its feet, the Superman theme playing in the background.
It also sparked the Lightning attack.
Tampa Bay scored two goals 15 seconds apart moments later to take control of the game.
Brown’s third goal of the season put the Lightning ahead for good.
From his own blue line, Ondrej Palat spotted Brown streaking into the Bruins zone. Palat hit Brown in stride, and Brown split a pair of Boston defensemen to get alone on Boston starting goaltender Tuukka Rask (eight saves). Brown worked his stick free to get off a shot and beat Rask glove side at 10:47 for a 2-1 Lightning advantage, Palat and Matt Carle providing assists.
“I was pretty excited after (scoring),” Brown said. “It hasn’t happened too often so far, but it definitely feels good to contribute finally on the scoreboard.”
Seconds later, Anton Stralman scored to extend the lead. Filppula carried the puck into the Boston zone toward the right circle and dropped a pass back on the right point for Stralman, who, with a full head of steam, blasted a slap shot inside the far post at 11:02 to make it 3-1 Bolts.
Assists on the goal were given to Filppula and Vladislav Namestnikov.
“That was a good feeling, sitting in the box and watching us score two big goals,” Stamkos said. “Just playing the right way, regardless of what happened, we got those two goals because we used our speed, got the puck deep, made some plays and let the skill take over. It was definitely nice to see.”
The Lightning continued to pile on in the second period, Jason Garrison blasting a center point slap shot that eluded Rask’s glove and sent the Finnish goalie to the bench for the remainder of the game at 7:54 with the goal that would prove to be the game-winner.
Garrison scored his fourth goal of the season, Tyler Johnson tallied his team-best 41st assist and Carle grabbed his second assist of the game.
“I think I can finally chalk them off the list for teams that I had not been behind the bench for a win,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who was 0-5-2 against Boston entering Sunday’s game. “That’s nice to have. For a young, inexperienced group, I think the difference between last year and this year is we feel like we can win any game. We may not win every game, but we feel like we can. We haven’t beaten Boston in a long time, but in the last couple weeks, we’ve taken three of four points from them in both buildings, so that in itself is just another step for us and the confidence for our team of what we can do.”
Boston backup Niklas Svedberg played the final 30-plus minutes in net.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had 25 saves on 28 shots to earn his 36th win of the season. Bishop is just one victory away from tying the Lightning franchise record for wins (37) he set one year ago.
Boston scored 33 seconds into the game to take an early 1-0 lead. Marchand took possession of the puck to the left of Bishop’s net and centered for Patrice Bergeron between the circles, Bergeron beating Bishop stick side with his one-timer.
“I think it was a couple unfortunate bounces in the neutral zone that got them a little bit of a break and we scrambled to get back and couldn’t really hold them out,” Stralman said. “I think the shift after we responded really well. We got right back into it and we didn’t let it affect us. The whole team showed some good character there in the first period.”
The Lightning answered a little more than five minutes later. Mark Barberio’s shot from the left point was saved by Rask. Brenden Morrow swooped in for a rebound shot that Rask again saved, but Namestnikov was waiting on the opposite post to slam home the second rebound attempt and tie the score 1-1 at 5:49.
Morrow and Brown were given assists.
“(Namestnikov) is a puck-possession guy that he’s needed a few years of pro seasoning, but he is an NHL player let’s make no mistake about it,” Cooper said. “He’s making his case not to go anywhere.”
Boston scored on the power play midway through the third period, Zdeno Chara firing from just inside the blue line to beat Bishop and close the gap at 4-2.
Since returning from injury, Palat has recorded four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in two games.
Bosotn’s Daniel Paille scored in the final minute for the 5-3 final.
Tampa Bay continues to chase Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Bolts trail by two points with nine games remaining for both teams.
The Lightning have two more contests to go on the current six-game homestand, Tuesday versus the Florida Panthers and Thursday against the Nashville Predators, before hitting the road for a five-game set.