BOSTON – Trent Frederic and five other Bruins scored to pace the Bruins to a 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at TD Garden. It was Boston’s fifth win in six games since the Christmas break.

“We're building here,” said Morgan Geekie, who notched Boston’s fifth goal to give the B’s a two-goal lead at 1:35 of the third. “I think we're taking steps in the right direction. And our compete level is just going up and I think we're starting to execute along those lines, too.

“We're gonna take it on the road with us and just try to get better each day out there.”

Boston, which is heading out on a four-game, seven-day road trip, overcame a quick one-goal hole after Brayden Point gave Tampa a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds into the contest. The Bruins responded quickly with goals from Frederic and Charlie McAvoy to lead after 20 minutes.

Tampa twice cut the deficit to one, before the Black & Gold pulled away with a three-goal third period on tallies from Geekie, Jake DeBrusk (empty-netter), and Charlie Coyle.

“I really liked our third period,” said coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought we were smart, didn’t give up an odd-man rush, we had numbers everywhere, and we kept hanging on to pucks in the offensive zone, making them defend so they didn’t have much energy to go the other way.

“They got a couple of penalties which gave them power plays – which they’re dangerous [on] – and I thought our penalty kill was excellent. We sacrificed really well.”

Montgomery talks after 7-3 win.

Two for Trent

Frederic continues to impress as his offensive game reaches new heights. After potting a career-high 17 goals a year ago, the 25-year-old forward is up to 12 for the season following his two-goal outing against Tampa.

“I think his confidence has increased,” said Montgomery. “His poise with the puck…and he’s got tremendous hands. In practice he scores more than anyone except for [David Pastrnak]. I think it’s coming. The kind of player he is, he’s gotta keep being really focused on his habits and details and moving his feet. If he’s doing those things, I expect him to keep scoring like he is.”

The St. Louis native tied the game, 1-1, at 4:42 of the first with his first career power-play goal, a nifty turnaround wrister from the top of the crease.

“It’s just his athletic ability,” said Montgomery. “He can finish, he’s got great hands, and he’s a big body. The reason I think he can continue to finish is he’s putting himself in situations to score. He’s not deferring anymore, he’s taking charge.”

Frederic banked in his second of the night off the pad of Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to put Boston up, 3-1, just 1:49 into the middle frame. He also won 3 of 10 faceoffs, a modest showing, but one that displayed his versatility and value to Montgomery in different situations.

“It’s great to have players who can play [both wing and center],” said Montgomery. “Then if you’re a winger and you can take draws, then you get out there more. Freddy’s doing that, he’s getting better on faceoffs and he can play all three positions.

“I can move him up and down the lineup. It gives us tremendous flexibility. He’s always gonna get minutes when you’re able to play all three spots.”

Poitras Returns

After missing three weeks to represent Canada at the 2024 World Junior Championships in Sweden, Matt Poitras returned to the Bruins lineup and centered Frederic and Danton Heinen on the third line for much of the night. The 19-year-old was a key contributor in the win, picking up a pair of helpers – one on McAvoy’s goal at 14:156 of the first and another on Frederic’s second at 1:49 of the middle period.

“I thought he was really good,” said Montgomery. “He looked fresh, he was making plays. I wish I could’ve got them out there. [Tampa] only had 11 forwards dressed and they lost one, they were down to ten. You want to make sure that you put them in situations that he’s going to be able to have success.

“The third and fourth line, unfortunately, got a little bit short suited because that’s who I was matching them up against, they had to alternate, so looking forward to the next game where they have four lines in Colorado and we can play him a lot more.”

Poitras said he felt that the time away from the NHL acted as a reset.

“It definitely felt like a good reset getting back here and getting back in the lineup,” he said. “It kind of felt like…kind of got those jitters of your first game again, a lot of excitement.

“I felt good today, and legs felt good. I felt like played I pretty good game, held the puck and made some good decisions.”

Poitras talks after 7-3 win.

Wait, There’s More

  • Before the game, the Bruins assigned Georgii Merkulov to Providence and recalled Jesper Boqvist, who took the fourth-line center role between Jakub Lauko and Oskar Steen. He finished with a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal in 11:22 of ice time. “He was terrific,” said Montgomery. “He was skating, he was closing hard in the D-zone, hanging on to pucks in the offensive zone. It was a real, real pleasant surprise to see how good he was for us and the fourth line was good. Steen set him up there early in the third. Lauko’s digging and running people over. Little bit of an identity there for that line.”
  • Geekie won 62.5% of his faceoffs and landed four shots on goal, while also notching his eighth goal of the season off a feed from Pastrnak to put Boston ahead, 5-3, at 1:35 of the third. He has seven points over his last seven games. “It's fun,” Geekie said of centering Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha. “I think that's the main thing, those two are fun to play with. Just try to get open for him. Obviously, you see the way that they both make plays…just try to get out there, make space for them and make it a little easier. They don't need a lot of room to make plays, so I'm just trying to give them a little more and see what they can do with it.”