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Burns: 3 Things we learned from doubling up Boston

From overcoming deficits to Nikita Kucherov's big night, Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Thursday's 6-3 triumph

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Kucherov's third career hatty

TBL@BOS: Kucherov tallies third career hat trick

Nikita Kucherov scores two power-play goals and finds the empty net to seal the win, recording the third hat trick of his career in a 6-3 win

  • 01:03 •

The Tampa Bay Lightning were reeling, having lost their last three-consecutive games, all at AMALIE Arena.

With 10 games remaining in the regular season, however, and time quickly running out for the Lightning to make a final push for the postseason, the Bolts regained their winning touch on the road.

Tampa Bay scored an incredibly important 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, the Bruins five points ahead of the Lightning for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference coming into Thursday's contest.

Make that three points now following the Bolts' fourth-consecutive road victory. The Lightning have earned at least a point in 10 of their last 11 road games now, going 7-1-3 over that stretch.

The Bolts will try to keep it going on the road when they play Detroit and enter Joe Louis Arena for the final time in the regular season on Friday, the second half of a back-to-back set.

But before battling the Red Wings, let's examine why Tampa Bay was able to get back on track in 3 Things we learned from doubling up the Bruins.

Video: TBL@BOS: Kucherov pots PPG off Drouin's great feed

1. IN THE NIK OF TIME

No Tampa Bay player had ever recorded a hat trick in 92 all-time games between the Lightning and the Bruins entering Thursday's Atlantic Division tilt.

The red-hot Nikita Kucherov put an end to that dubious stat after netting his 35th, 36th and 37th goals of the season in the 6-3 victory.

Kucherov scored twice on the power play to grab the NHL lead for power-play goals with 17 this season, pulling ahead of Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, who each have 15 power-play goals.

And Kucherov pulled into a tie with Boston's Brad Marchand for second-most overall goals in the league and trails Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby by just four as the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy heats up.

Quite simply, Kucherov has been arguably the best player in the NHL over the last 15 games, the Russian forward netting 16 goals and 11 assists to lead the league for points since Feb. 21.

"Every year, he just keeps elevating his game," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence now, especially in the offensive zone. It was a matter of just getting him, really, to shoot pucks.

"You look back about a month and a half, two months ago, you'd see the stat sheet and he wouldn't have a shot on goal. Now you're seeing five, six, seven a game, and when that's happening for a guy of his offensive talent caliber, pucks are going to go in for him, and right now they are."

Kucherov had six shots on the night.

Three of them went in.

Keep shooting, Kucherov.

Video: TBL@BOS: Point roofs rebound chance in front

2. CALL AND RESPONSE

Boston took a one-goal lead three separate times against the Lightning on Thursday.

Each time, the Bolts responded with a goal of their own.

Each time, that goal came less than two minutes after the Bruins scored.

David Pastrnak opened scoring at 1:33 of the second period but Brayden Point responded for the Lightning, jamming a loose puck from a scramble past Tuukka Rask from the edge of the crease 44 seconds later to tie the score 1-1.

Boston went back in front on Zdeno Chara's eighth of the season, and Nikita Kucherov leveled the score for Tampa Bay, ripping a one-timer from the circle to convert a power play 24 seconds after Chara's goal.

Again, the Bruins regained the lead, scoring five minutes after Kucherov tied it up.

Again, the Lightning had the answer, this time Anton Stralman putting a shot past Rask from a sharp angle down low on a rush to make it 3-3 just 1:35 after Boston went up 3-2.

More than anything, the Lightning's ability to answer each of the Bruins' first three goals in a short amount of time allowed the Bolts to build into the game and eventually take over in the third period.

"It took probably cumulative two-and-a-half, three minutes to keep tying the game," Cooper said. "That was, for me, the difference. To keep answering like that, it just kind of sucked some momentum from them, and then when we got the lead, they couldn't answer and we extended it and that was it."

Jonathan Drouin ended a 13-game goal drought to score the game-winner 4:12 into the third period. Kucherov added one of his three goals on a power play six minutes later, and the Bolts were well on their way to their first victory over Boston this season.

"We felt (after taking the lead), 'Okay, finally, now let's dig our heels in,'" Cooper said. "And we did."

Video: TBL@BOS: Stralman picks near corner from tough angle

3. INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

About the only negative to come out of the 6-3 win in Boston was an injury to defenseman Jason Garrison.

The 32-year-old blueliner had his left leg rolled up on behind the Lightning goal in the second period and immediately went to the ice in pain. He was assisted off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and wasn't able to put any weight on his leg as he was helped to the locker room.

Before the third period, the Lightning announced Garrison had suffered a lower-body injury and wouldn't return to the game. His status is unknown, but with a quick turnaround before another game Friday in Detroit, it's unlikely Garrison will be able to suit up against the Red Wings.

"Obviously, it didn't look too good," Cooper said. "He couldn't put any weight on his leg. We'll have to see tomorrow, and if not, somebody is going to have to jump in there and fill the void."

The Lightning were already without the services of centermen Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette, who each missed their seventh-consecutive game on Thursday with a lower-body injury.

The Bolts can ill afford anymore injuries to an already-depleted roster.

But it looks like that's exactly what they'll have to deal with now with this latest knock on Garrison.

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