Boston, MA -
Dmitry Afanasenkov and Vaclav Prospal scored two goals apiece to help power the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Boston Bruins Saturday night, 6-5. The Bruins gave up leads of 3-1, 4-3 and 5-4, before Prospal scored the game-winner on a two-man advantage in the third period, his second goal of the night. Patrice Bergeron
scored two goals and added an assist, while Brad Boyes had his hand in three of the Bruins' goals in the loss. Tampa Bay averted the season sweep after losing its three previous meetings with Boston.
"I said to our guys after the game, ‘I'm not sure how to assess (the game),'" said coach Sullivan. "There were fluky goals for both sides and crazy penalties. It was a difficult game to assess."
Ruslan Fedotenko got things going for Tampa Bay and put the Lightning up 1-0 just over four minutes in.
A minute later though, Patrice Bergeron
made good on a Brad Boyes pass to knot the score at 1-1. Tampa Bay defenseman Nolan Pratt coughed up the puck to Boyes on the half-boards and he quickly sent it over to Bergeron who beat Lightning goalie John Grahame five-hole for his 18th of the year.
The Bruins went ahead 2-1 on a Brian Leetch slap shot from the point. The referee had a delayed penalty call on Bolts defenseman Cory Sarich, who tossed Bergeron into the Tampa Bay net. While Bergeron was in the net, Leetch sent in a slapper that hit Bergeron and redirected past Grahame. After some deliberation, Bergeron was credited with his second goal of the night at 11:16 of the first.
Then, 1:20 later, Tom Fitzgerald scored on a knuckler from just inside the blueline to give the B's a two-goal lead. The goal was Fitzgerald's first since October 13.
Tampa Bay cut their deficit to one goal after David Tanabe was sent to the box for hooking and Prospal capitalized on the ensuing power play. Prospal batted a rebound past Thomas at 9:17 of the second, ending the Bruins streak of 15 consecutive penalty kills.
Dimitry Afanasenkov tied it for Tampa Bay less than a minute later on a slap shot from the top of the circle.
The Bruins regained the lead at 17:27. Glen Murray tried to make a pass in front to Bergeron, but Lightning forward Brad Richards deflected the pass off Grahame and into the net.
Afanasenkov scored his second of the night on a wrap-a-round that trickled through Thomas' legs to make it 4-4 at 3:21 of the third session.
Minutes later, Brad Stuart blocked a shot and dove to poke the puck out of the zone, which sent Bergeron and LaCouture in on a 2-on-1 shorthanded break. Bergeron slid the puck over to LaCouture who banged it home for the goal. LaCouture had just come out of the penalty box after serving the first half a Nick Boynton double minor.
The lead didn't last long as Tampa Bay's Tim Taylor set up Ryan Craig in front to tie the game at 5 and Prospal scored his second goal of the night three minutes later to seal the Lightning's 6-5 victory.
"It was with about 10 minutes left which is still a lot of time," said LaCouture. "You can't sit back and rely on a one-goal lead with that amount of time left. We can't dwell on this one. It would have been nice to have one right before the Olympic break, but we can't dwell on it because we've been playing pretty well."
Andrew Raycroft entered the game in relief of Thomas at 13:48 of the third and made his first appearance since being replaced by Thomas on January 12 against Los Angeles. Thomas finished the game with 21 saves.
"I got my first shutout in the NHL and I just had my first super disappointing game," said Thomas. "It happens to everyone. I am disappointed for the team though. There were some great efforts tonight. We're still right there in the chase and we need to come back and keep plugging after this break."