March 8, 2014

B's mount comeback, sweep season series with Lightning

By Jesse Connolly

Johnny Boychuk tied the game at three apiece midway through the third period. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 4, Tampa Bay 3 (SO)

Recap: During the opening period, the Bruins took 13:54 to put a shot on net before finally showing some signs of life just before the intermission.

In the second, Tuukka Rask got a little too aggressive during a B's power play, forcing Dougie Hamilton to try, unsuccessfully, to stop a shot from Ondrej Palat while on his knees in the crease. Tampa made it a 2-0 game when a shot from the point by Mark Barberio found its way through the legs of Nate Thompson, Matt Bartkowski and eventually Rask.

Boston rebounded with a nice backhanded goal from close range by Dan Paille, and evened things up when Carl Soderberg came in alone and tucked a backhander of his own through Ben Bishop's wickets. The game stayed tied for 62 seconds, with Val Filppula putting the Lightning back on top with under 10 minutes gone in the period.

The Bruins dominated the third period, outshooting Tampa 13-4. They thought they tied the game when Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron teamed up to poke the puck in near the right post, but their celebrations were all for not as the officials fell back on that rubbish "intent to blow the whistle" rule. Boston scored a goal that actually counted shortly afterward, with Johnny Boychuk making it a 3-3 game.

After a fast-paced, scoreless overtime, it took until the seventh round of the shootout to decide a winner. Slumping winger Reilly Smith tried to go to the backhand but wound up taking a shot from just shy of the goal line to the left of Bishop on the forehand, putting it past the Bolts netminder.

Records: Boston (41-17-5, 87 points); Tampa Bay (34-24-6, 74 points)

Key Play of the Game: Boychuk unleashed an absolute bomb to knot the game up at three apiece, but gee whiz, Bishop wasn't too alert on the play. He clearly thought the puck was still in the corner and barely flinched before No. 55's shot found twine.

Connolly's Commendations: Speaking of Boychuk, what a monster game for the B's blueliner. He had a goal, an assist, was plus-2 and absolutely man-handled Tyler Johnson during the undersized rookie's last-minute scoring chance in the third.

It was another stellar game for Boston's third line. Chris Kelly set up Soderberg's breakaway goal, while Soderberg and Loui Eriksson earned the assists on Boychuk's big goal in the third. Each forward finished plus-2.

Connolly's Critiques: It was a frustrating night for the B's top line. The trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla was out there for the Lightning's shorty and Barberio's goal, the latter of which was more tough luck than anything. That was the theme of the night, however, as both Lucic and Iginla caught iron.

Whoever made the mistake of sending Claude Julien out into the Florida sun without sunblock has some explaining to do.

Notes: With the victory, Boston sweeps the season series against Tampa, 4-0, and improves to 8-0-0 in their last eight games against the Lightning. ... Steven Stamkos was held without a point for the second time in a row since making his return to Tampa's lineup Thursday. He only had one shot on net. ... Shawn Thornton got in a spirited bout with Keith Aulie 7:59 into the game.

Final Thoughts: After a dreadful start, the Bruins still had their moments of sloppiness throughout the contest, but they really buckled down in the third period, which has been their bread and butter all season. Smith's shootout goal should hopefully provide a nice confidence boost going forward.

Next: The Bruins will head to Sunrise to take on the Panthers at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ