TAMPA BAY - The first 25-plus minutes of Tuesday night's tilt with Tampa Bay was not going quite the way the Bruins had planned. Boston was not playing poorly, but the Lightning's heavy forecheck was causing the Bruins fits.
With Tampa bearing down on them, the Bruins had trouble breaking the puck out of their zone and were not able to create much offensively as a result. Boston knew it needed to adjust and did just that during the intermission.
Tampa Bay scored first, but the Bruins stormed back and flipped the script in the second period with a strong forecheck of their own.
The tweak worked wonders as Boston scored two quick goals near the end of the second and added two more in the third to capture a 4-3 win over the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
Video: Bruins hang on vs. Bolts for third straight win
"We got our forecheck going. I think that was probably the biggest thing," said Tuukka Rask, who made 18 saves in his 25th win of the season.
"We spent some time in the offensive zone, so obviously that's going to wear teams down. We realized that if we let them come at us in our zone like we did in the first period, it's going to be a long night.
"We had to get something going. Our forecheck changed everything."
Zdeno Chara, who was named the game's first star, also credited a modification on the back end for allowing the Bruins to move the puck more freely out of their own end. The captain said Boston's blueliners adjusted their gaps, which allowed them to get to loose pucks quicker and transition quicker and more efficiently.
"When we do that, everything is moving up North," said Chara. "In the first, I thought we were slower and they were able to put a lot of pucks behind us."
Video: Bruins react after 4-3 win over Tampa
This was evident on the Bruins' first goal, which tied the game, 1-1, with 1:52 left in the second period. Brad Marchand raced through the neutral zone with speed before pulling up at the bottom of the right circle in the Tampa end and dishing a pass to Adam McQuaid at the point.
McQuaid let go a soft wrister that Patrice Bergeron was able to tip through the five-hole of Ben Bishop.
"I thought after the first goal we kept our legs moving, we kept the momentum on our side…we kept going at it and that's what you need to do if you want to have some results," said Bergeron.
Boston took their first lead of the game just 1:51 later when David Krejci beat the clock for his 12th goal of the season. Marchand took a pass from Kevan Miller and, once again, pulled up at the bottom of the right circle. Marchand then found Krejci in the slot, where the center let go a laser that beat Bishop with just 0.6 seconds left in the frame.
"That was huge," said Bergeron. "Definitely gave us the energy late in the period that you want. I thought we got back in the dressing room feeling good about ourselves, especially being down by one and scoring those quick two goals. It was great to have."
Video: BOS@TBL: Krejci beats the clock with rocket wrister
After Alex Killorn potted his second goal of the game to tie things at 2, Boston used its strong forecheck to regain the lead midway through the third. Matt Beleskey battled hard for a loose puck in the corner and won it back to Colin Miller, who found a wide-open Chara. Chara delivered one of his trademark blasts one past to put Boston ahead, 3-2, with 12:09 to go.
"It was a big goal," said Chara. "Any time you score the go-ahead goal in the third like that, you put your team in position."
Frank Vatrano's power-play goal with 7:37 remaining proved to be the winner when Braden Point brought Tampa Bay within 4-3 with the net empty and just over two minutes to play.
"The first period, I thought they pushed their will on us a little bit more than we did on them," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team has won three straight games for the first time since the first week of December.
"We had to make an adjustment and we did a better job in the second. To be honest with you, I thought that our will to win got better in the second and third. I think that was the difference in the game.
"We came out in the second with a much better period and the third period we kept pushing. A real important win here."
Video: BOS@TBL: Vatrano nets PPG short side past Bishop
Colin Miller made an impact at both ends of the ice on Tuesday night.
In the first period, after a puck squeaked through Rask, the blueliner swept the puck off the goal line just in the knick of time to keep things scoreless.
"It was good to help Tuukka there," said Miller. "He's saved my butt a couple times."
"I did [thank him]," Rask said with a smirk. "It hit my pad, I guess it hit my blocker or something. I didn't see the original shot but it was on the ice. It was behind me, but great read by him."
Video: BOS@TBL: Miller clears the puck off the goal line
Miller made another great read in the third period, this time on the offensive side of the puck. After collecting a pass from Beleskey, Miller faked a slapper from the left point and delivered a cross-ice pass to Chara at the top of the right circle.
Chara blasted it home for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-2 Bruins lead.
"I told him it was a big credit to him," said Chara. "He kind of freezes everyone and put it right in my wheelhouse. It was a great play by him."
Miller also assisted on Vatrano's power-play marker, giving a Bruins defenseman a point on all four Boston goals.
"The back end did a good job tonight," said Miller. "There were defensemen with some help on the scoresheet."
Video: BOS@TBL: Chara rings one-timer off the post and in
Odds and Ends
The Bruins went 1 for 3 on the power play, but had only 47 seconds of man-up time. Vatrano's winner came just 14 seconds into Boston's third power play of the night. The Bruins' first attempt was cut short after 13 seconds when Matt Beleskey was called for boarding, while their second attempt lasted only 20 seconds after Vlad Namestikov's hooking infraction negated Beleskey's tripping penalty…Jimmy Hayes engaged in a lengthy bout with Killorn, who scored two goals for the Lightning, at 10:14 of the first period. The two were eventually separated by the linesmen, in what would likely go into the books as a draw…Torey Krug and Vatrano led the Bruins with five shots on goal each.