|TBL||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|BOS||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
The final result of Thursday night’s game was in no way indicative of the spectacular performance turned in by Mike Smith. In fact, following 60 minutes, it was almost as if the Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender never missed any time at all.
Smith made 26 saves in his first start since Dec. 18, including 22 through the first 40 minutes for the Lightning, who dropped a hard-luck loss to the Boston Bruins 2-1 at TD Garden.
“It’s always a tough place to come and to play here in Boston,” Lightning wing Simon Gagne said. “It’s always a challenge in back-to-back games.”
Thursday’s contests was Tampa Bay’s fourth straight to be decided by a 2-1 score. The Lightning also fell Wednesday night by a single goal against New Jersey.
Eric Brewer scored his first goal as a member of the Lightning, who dropped to third in the Eastern Conference standings with 81 points, two behind the Bruins. They hold a one-point lead atop the Southeast Division standings over the Washington Capitals, who gained ground on Tampa Bay following a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
“We played well, but we still want to take it up a notch,” Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim said.
Steven Kampfer had a second-period goal for Boston, and Milan Lucic netted what turned out to be the game-winner with just under four minutes to play in regulation.
The Bruins have won seven in a row. Tim Thomas made 27 saves.
An offensive first period was highlighted by a number of prime scoring chances for both sides.
First, Smith made a spectacular save as he slid across the crease to make a nifty stop on Patrice Bergeron from point-blank range on the game’s first shot. He then turned in another stop from in-close on Brad Marchand and received some help when Lucic banged a wrist shot off the post as the period came to a close.
Stamkos nearly opened the scoring for Tampa Bay midway through the opening period, but his wrister from the left circle also ricocheted off the post and hit Thomas in the back before the Bruins net minder could cover the puck.
The Lightning and Bruins had identical records at 37-19-7 entering the game. The win allowed Boston to pull a game ahead and clinch the tiebreaker with a 3-1 season series edge in four meetings on the year.
Brewer broke a previous career-high in goals when he made it 1-0 from the slot at 4:04 in the second. He reared back and fired a slap shot that deflected off the stick of Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer before caroming into the net.
Kampfer then cashed in at the other end, tying the game at one with his fifth of the season just 2:02 later.
Then, things got rough between the pair of division leaders.
Steve Downie and Shawn Thornton were each handed 10-minute misconducts after a scrum in front of the Lightning net. Each whistle after the incident was followed by some more pushing and shoving, although nothing escalated until Lucic and Brewer squared off at 10:10 in the second period.
Tampa Bay was given a prime opportunity to pot its second goal of the night when Nathan Horton went to the penalty box and Lucic was called for roughing and fighting, giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:53.
Boston, however, limited the Lightning’s shots on net, then went the other way on a breakaway when Horton left the penalty box, but Smith stopped him with his right pad to keep it tied.
“We as players know what he can do,” Bergenheim added. “It’s great to see him making those saves that we know he can make. Getting his confidence up is the most important thing for him.”
Lucic put Boston up 2-1 at 16:18 in the third.
There was confusion in front of the net as to the location of the puck, evidenced by a mess of players piled up on top of Smith, but it became visible after it caromed off an official’s skate and redirected right to Lucic in the corner, who sent one high into the open net for the game-winner.
Nonetheless, Smith’s performance was reminiscent of his previous two wins prior to his injury on Dec. 20, in which he allowed just a single goal in each.
“To come back from injury and to get sent to Norfolk for conditioning, then being put on waivers and coming back to the team, I never thought I’d play for the Tampa Bay Lightning again,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a dream come true again to be back in a Lightning uniform.”
|Milan Lucic Cross checking against Mattias Ritola|
|Adam Hall Hooking against David Krejci|
|Steve Downie Misconduct (10 min) against Shawn Thornton|
|Shawn Thornton Misconduct (10 min) against Steve Downie|
|Mattias Ohlund Roughing against David Krejci|
|Milan Lucic Roughing against Sean Bergenheim|
|Nathan Horton Tripping against Sean Bergenheim|
|Milan Lucic Fighting (maj) against Eric Brewer|
|Eric Brewer Fighting (maj) against Milan Lucic|
|Dennis Seidenberg Cross checking against Blair Jones|
|Eric Brewer Hi-sticking against Chris Kelly|
|SA: 28||TOI: 58:57|
|Saves: 26||EV: 19 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 6|
|SV%: .929||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 28||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 27||EV: 20 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 7|
|SV%: .964||SH: 0 - 0|
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