TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning picked the wrong time of the season to hit a slump.
The Lightning's losing streak reached four games when Reilly Smith scored the only goal of the shootout in the seventh round, giving the Boston Bruins a 4-3 victory on Saturday night. Smith deked Ben Bishop and slid a shot through the five-hole to win the game after Tampa Bay's Richard Panik drilled the crossbar to start the seventh round.
"Sometimes you have to be lucky to be good, right?" Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask said.
Boston (41-17-5), the leader in the Atlantic Division, moved within one point of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference after completing a four-game sweep of the season series against the Lightning.
"We played them four times and they beat us four times," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "If that was a playoff series, it's not good. It's not rocket science, I think they are a better team than we are right now."
Tampa Bay (34-24-6) still owns the first of two wild-card berths in the Eastern Conference despite losing its fourth game in a row, including the first two of a six-game homestand. But the Lightning saw their lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the leader among the teams outside a playoff berth, reduced to three points.
The Lightning led 2-0 early in the second period and 3-2 in the third before Johnny Boychuk forced overtime at 8:11 by beating Bishop with a slap shot from the point that the goalie lost track of. It was the defenseman's third goal of the season and first in 21 games.
"It's my fault there on the third one," Bishop said. "I had no idea the puck was at the point. I thought the puck was in the corner."
Rask made 17 saves through 65 minutes but was perfect in the tiebreaker. Bishop finished with 29 saves.
After a scoreless first period, Tampa Bay opened the scoring 27 seconds into the second, triggering a burst of five goals in just over nine minutes.
The Lightning scored their eighth shorthanded goal of the season when Tyler Johnson chased a loose puck into the Boston zone. Rask came out to play the puck but Ondrej Palat trailed the play and found the net with his second attempt for his 15th goal of the season.
The Lightning made it 2-0 at 4:13 when defenseman Mark Barberio sent a shot from just inside the blue line that trickled between Rask's pads. Tom Pyatt and Ryan Callahan earned assists; for Callahan, it was his first point since being acquired by the Lightning from the New York Rangers at the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday.
Daniel Paille cut Tampa Bay's lead in half at 6:58 with his ninth goal of the season, converting his own rebound. Carl Soderberg tied the game at 8:29 when he took a long pass from Chris Kelly, skated in alone and beat Bishop with a backhander for his 11th goal of the season.
"We really had to work hard," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We fell behind 2-0 on some poor defensive decisions, but the character part of our team showed up and we had a great comeback."
But the Lightning went back in front 62 seconds later when Palat centered a pass to Valtteri Filppula in the slot. Filppula hit the half-empty net for his 21st of the season.
"We at least got a point out of this one," said Cooper, whose team opened its homestand with a 3-1 loss to the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. "I thought we played pretty well. We're getting close. It's a game of inches. Got to get the next inch, I guess."
Smith got the shootout winner but hasn't scored a goal since Jan 28 against the Florida Panthers, a total of 10 games.
"It's been a while," Smith said. "At the end of the day it's good to just help the team get an extra point."
The victory marked the first time this season the Bruins were able to win after trailing by two goals. They had been 0-15-2 before Saturday.
|SHG - Ondrej Palat (15) ASST: Tyler Johnson (21), Eric Brewer (10)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Mark Barberio (5) ASST: Tom Pyatt (4), Ryan Callahan (15)|
2 - 0 TBL
|Daniel Paille (9) ASST: Gregory Campbell (10), Johnny Boychuk (16)|
2 - 1 TBL
|Carl Soderberg (11) ASST: Chris Kelly (7)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Valtteri Filppula (21) ASST: Ondrej Palat (24)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Johnny Boychuk (3) ASST: Carl Soderberg (24), Loui Eriksson (17)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||V. Filppula||P. Bergeron|
|2||S. Stamkos||L. Eriksson|
|3||O. Palat||C. Soderberg|
|4||R. Callahan||B. Marchand|
|5||T. Purcell||J. Iginla|
|6||V. Hedman||D. Krejci|
|7||R. Panik||R. Smith|
|Power Play %||30.8%||18.3%|
|% on Road||27.3%||14.3%|
|% at Home||34.4%||22.2%|
|Victor Hedman Tripping against Brad Marchand|
|Keith Aulie Fighting (maj) against Shawn Thornton|
|Shawn Thornton Fighting (maj) against Keith Aulie|
|Zdeno Chara Roughing against Ryan Callahan|
|Mark Barberio Slashing against Milan Lucic|
|Teddy Purcell Hooking against Chris Kelly|