BOSTON – With one goal every period and a 35-save effort by goaltender Mike Smith, the Tampa Bay Lightning closed out their season series against the Boston Bruins with a 3-1 win on Thursday night. Andreas Karlsson scored the game-winning goal to help lead the Lightning to their second consecutive victory.
Vincent Lecavalier posted an empty-net goal in what was his 700th career game, while Jeff Halpern opened the scoring en route to the Tampa Bay win.
Immediately looking to get on the board, Junior Lessard and Craig MacDonald skated against netminder Tim Thomas on a two-on-one rush early in the game. Catching the pass in the skate, MacDonald kicked the puck up to his stick before firing off a backhanded shot from the slot. Thomas kicked the puck away before Smith responded with a save at the opposite end of the ice.
After collecting the puck in the neutral zone, Glen Metropolit skated the puck down the right side against Smith. Metropolit aimed for the five hole on his attempt at the side of the net, but Smith held on to the puck for the save.
Lecavalier went on to put an open wrist shot on Thomas after an odd-man rush with Jussi Jokinen, before the line of Mathieu Darche, Michel Ouellet and Halpern pressured the Bruins. After Darche centered a pass to Ouellet, the Lightning winger skated to the front of the net for a shot that Thomas kicked away. On the following shift, seven second into their only power play of the night, the Lightning scored to take the early lead.
Following a right circle faceoff win, Kuba skated the puck down to the left circle where he directed a shot on net. Halpern redirected the low shot to the five hole, netting his 15th goal of the season.
Halpern has recorded goals in three consecutive games, his longest scoring streak of the season. Through nine games with Tampa Bay, Halpern has posted five goals and 10 points, including six points (three goals, three assists) in his previous three outings.
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith does the splits to make a close-in save on a shot by Bruins' Phil Kessel. Smith had 35 saves backstopping the Bolts to a 3-1 win. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
As the Bruins closed out the period on the power play, Smith made a number of strong saves to keep the Lightning lead going into the second.
Smith made a pad save early in the man-advantage after Dennis Wideman accepted a pass at the left faceoff circle from the right corner. Wideman fired an open shot, but was denied on the play.
Shortly after the play Metropolit carried the puck out of the right corner before swinging a shot around a Lightning defender. The shot found its way through traffic, and after making the initial save Smith block a rebound attempt by Chuck Kobasew at the side of the net.
Tampa Bay extended their lead at 7:43 when Karlsson converted a breakaway for his second goal of the season. Mike Lundin broke up a pass in the offensive zone before Jokinen moved the puck ahead to Karlsson. The Lightning center faked a shot as he skated down the slot and moved to the backhand to slide the puck to Thomas’ left, beating him around his outstretched glove hand.
Minutes later Smith denied Phil Kessel on a breakaway. After a shot deflected to Marc Savard, the Bruins center forwarded a pass to Kessel for the attempt. Kessel moved in for a backhand to the left of Smith, but the Tampa Bay goalie stretched across his crease to make the pad save.
The Lightning looked to extend their league in the second half of the period when Jokinen centered a pass to Lecavalier. Open in front of the net, Lecavalier fired the puck from the right hash marks but Thomas stayed square to the shot to make a glove save.
With the period winding down Smith made a reaching poke save on Savard in front of the net before Filip Kuba rang a shot off the cross bar. Savard opened the final period with a tough shot at the side of the net after P.J. Axelsson threw the puck on goal. Smith got a piece of the attempt to send it high over the net as he slid across the goal line.
Cutting the lead in half, Kobasew connected at 7:57 to get Boston on the scoreboard. After Darche blocked a shot by Matt Lashoff, Marco Sturm collected the puck at the left point. Sturm fired a shot that Kobasew deflected in the slot, sending the puck to the top right corner of the net.
On a late power play Boston looked to tie the game when Savard dug the puck out of the right wing corner. Savard fed the puck to Lashoff at the opposite point, but Smith leaned in to the slap shot attempt for the save.
The Bruins went on to pull Thomas for the late man-advantage opportunity, but with eight seconds remaining in play Lecavalier added his team-leading 37th goal of the season. Gathering a cross-ice pass by Martin St. Louis, Lecavalier popped the puck into the open net from the left point to close out the scoring.
Lecavalier has recorded five points in his previous three games, all goals.
Making 35 saves in the contest, Smith posted his second win since joining the Lightning. Smith has allowed two or less goals in three of his five starts with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning converted their lone power play while holding the Bruins scoreless through three man-advantage opportunities. Boston finished the game having out-shot Tampa Bay, 36-26.
With the win, the Lightning improved to 8-4-3 through their previous 15 road games.
Following the one-game trip Tampa Bay returns to the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday, March 15 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) for a match-up against the New York Rangers. The game marks the lone contest at Tampa Bay before the club travels for a three-game road trip.
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Martin St. Louis