The Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2, Friday night in front of 21,201 fans in the St. Pete Times Forum. Boston forward Brad Boyes had two goals, while Brandon Bochenski added a goal and two assists, to give the Bruins the game.
The Bruins played without defenseman Andrew Alberts and forwards Patrice Bergeron
and Glen Murray, and for the first time in recent memory, the Bruins put their stamp on the game early and never relinquished the game's momentum.
"I thought collectively, as a group, we were pretty strong," said Boston head coach Dave Lewis. "We got the lead, they tied it, and we got another one."
And then Boston scored another one, and another one -- and so on.
The result: a rather uncontested victory against one of the top teams in the NHL's Eastern Conference and a respite from the extra sessions Boston had needed to play, with some frequency, over the last few weeks.
Certainly, it was Boston's excellent first period play versus Tampa Bay, which grounded the Lightning and had the Bolts playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.
The Bruins Marco Sturm, carrying a red hot stick of late, scored his 20th goal of the season at 1:46 and Boyes scored at 9:41 to chase Tampa Bay starter, Marc Denis, who was replaced by goalie Johan Holmqvist.
The two Boston goals in the first were sandwiched around Dan Boyle's 14th of the season for Tampa, scored on the power play to tie the game momentarily, at 5:29.
But Boston seized complete control of the game in the second period as the B's Boyes scored his second goal of the game, and 11th marker of the season, at 3:58 to make the score 3-1.
"That was the biggest thing tonight, getting back to business," said Boyes. "We got the two points that we needed and we have to go (face the Panthers) now."
The Bruins Phil Kessel, who assisted on Boyes' first goal, added his eighth of the campaign at 3:58 to put the Black & Gold up, 4-1, going into the second intermission.
And it was more of the same in the third stanza. Bochenski buried Boston's fifth goal at 4:30 and Stanislav Chistov added one of his own at 9:31.
"We knew we had to have a lot of back pressure if they got by us," said Bochenski. "They have a very skilled team and were sending guys (in) all night -- but I don't think we gave up an odd man rush all night.
"It was a good game defensively for us."
His teammates agreed.
"We just played well in the neutral zone," said Chistov. "They didn't have many chances to score…everybody did what they are supposed to do. That’s why teams win -- everybody is on the same page."
"The neutral zone was huge," agreed Boyes. "I think we frustrated them a bit.
"We didn't give them much and when we did, Timmy (Thomas) was there to make the big saves"
Thomas, an afterthought in this game, needed to make just 24 saves for his 27th victory, his highest win total since he won 34 for Jokerit Helsinki while playing in Finland during the 2004-2005 campaign.
Prior to that season, Thomas, who continues to be the backbone of the Bruins recent successful stretch, had his most successful season when he won 26 contests with the University of Vermont in 1995-96.
Boston, who have won four games in a row, look to finish their road trip on a positive note tomorrow night versus the Florida Panthers.