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Burns: 3 Things we learned from beating Boston

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 3-2 win over Boston on Thursday

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their win streak to a season-long five games and continued to create distance between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference (and the NHL for that matter) following a methodical 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins at AMALIE Arena Thursday.

Again, the Lightning's depth was on full display, the go-ahead and game-winning goals coming from unexpected sources.

With the game tied 1-1 early in the third period, Alex Killorn slipped a pass up ahead for Mathieu Joseph, and the rookie showed off his silky smooth hands with a dazzling finish to beat Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.

A little over a minute later, Steven Stamkos was without a stick on the penalty kill but still managed to block a shot out of the zone. Anthony Cirelli beat David Pastrnak to the loose puck to spring himself for a breakaway, Cirelli faking a shot on his backhand at the net then switching to the forehand at the last moment to get Rask out of position and score for a 3-1 Lightning lead.

Boston got a goal back late with the extra attacker, but Louis Domingue was sensational in his return to the Lightning net, stopping 33-of-35 shots overall and making a few key stops along the way to pick up his 12th win of the season.

The win was an important result in the division against a Boston squad that's given the Lightning plenty of problems in the past during the regular season.

Thursday, the Lightning made the Bruins look like just another ordinary team.

We'll examine how they did it in Three Things we learned from beating Boston.

Video: Domingue on tonight's win

The Lightning expected a big push from Boston in the early going of Thursday's game.

At least, they should have.

The Bruins were embarrassed in their previous performance, a dismal 5-0 shutout loss in Florida two nights earlier. They were called out by their head coach following the game, Bruce Cassidy labeling the action on the ice "'men against boys at times." The Bruins held a spirited practice at AMALIE Arena on Wednesday to try to correct their mistakes.

They had a point to prove against the league-leading Lightning.

Plus, the Bolts were playing the first game back from a road trip, which always seems to result in uneven play over the opening couple of shifts.

The first minutes were predictable. The Bruins jumped on the Lightning early, creating a couple decent scoring chances before Pastrnak pounced on a rebound off a Colby Cave shot and deposited the puck in the back of the net 2:04 into the game.

The Bruins continued applying pressure and had an 8-4 shot advantage at one point. But a strong shift by the Brayden Point line got the Bolts back in the game, the Lightning sustaining pressure on Tuukka Rask's net and creating a number of good scoring chances of their own. From about the midpoint of the first period onward, the Lightning controlled the action, turning that 8-4 shot deficit into a 12-8 advantage.

At 14:59 of the first, the Lightning capitalized on their sustained pressure, Nikita Kucherov delivering a beautiful backhanded pass into the slot for Point to quickly one-time past Rask at the far post.

The Lightning went into the first intermission tied 1-1 with Boston. The fact they were able to go into the locker room on level terms was a positive sign for the remainder of the game.

They easily could have been down a goal or two.

"It's always a good game against Boston, it doesn't matter how they've played before," Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue said. "We know they are going to bring it every night and they did. They played a good game, but I thought our response was also very good especially in the third when we got two early goals and protected our lead pretty well after." 

 Video: BOS@TBL: Joseph goes five-hole to give Lightning lead

Mathieu Joseph impressed early in his NHL career with his blazing speed and Yanni Goude-like relentlessness all over the ice.

Now he's proving to be a pretty prolific offensive player too.

Joseph supplied the go-ahead goal for the Lightning against the Bruins, taking advantage of a slick pass from Alex Killorn to get in alone on goal and then finishing with aplomb in a tight space.

"(Girardi) kept it in the neutral zone and it was a great play by Killer, between the guy's leg and honestly I didn't have much," Joseph said. "I was kind of lucky it went in."

What Mathieu Joseph is doing this season for the Lightning is anything but luck. His goal Thursday was his third over the last two games. He scored a pair of markers in Detroit to bring the Lightning back from a 2-0 deficit. He also provided the assist on Cedric Paquette's game-tying shorthanded goal in Detroit, outracing veteran Red Wings defenseman Mike Green to a loose puck in the Wings' zone and spinning through three Detroit skaters to deliver a pass to Paquette streaking toward goal.

He kickstarted the Lightning's come-from-behind victory in Florida a couple nights earlier too, scoring 13 minutes into the second period with the Bolts down 4-1 in a game Tampa Bay would eventually win 5-4 in overtime.

"He's playing great," Cirelli said. "You can just tell with his speed and the way that he moves and his hands kind of keep up with him. He's skating well. He's making plays, and I'm just really happy for him."

Joseph now has nine goals on the season, just one behind Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde. He ranks tied for second among NHL rookies for goals. If he continues producing at his current pace, he'll be a candidate for the Calder Trophy given to the league's rookie of the year at season's end.

"Clearly, he's getting a little more acclimated knowing what he can and can't do," Cooper said. "Both sides of the puck, he's playing better."

 Video: BOS@TBL: Domingue shuts down Pastrnak's breakaway

Louis Domingue made a NHL-high 11-straight starts until finally getting a respite Tuesday in the second half of a back-to-back in Detroit, Domingue turning the Lightning net over to Eddie Pasquale, who made his NHL debut and backstopped a 6-5 shootout victory.

Domingue was back in goal Thursday and looked just as sharp as he did in his last appearance, a 26-of-27 save performance in New Jersey on Monday. With the extra day of rest, Domingue gave up just one goal through the first 58 minutes to allow the Lightning to build a 3-1 lead. Boston got a late goal with Tuukka Rask on the bench for the extra attacker on David Krejci's shot from just inside the blue line, but Domingue scrambled over the final 90 seconds or so to secure the victory.

"I just used the rest to my advantage, had a good morning skate, felt the puck like I should and just played," Domingue said.

The 26-year-old netminder had key moments throughout the game. None were bigger though than his save on Pastrnak with the game tied 1-1 late in the first period however. Erik Cernak turned the puck over at the offensive blue line, allowing Pastrnak to spring forward for a breakaway chance with Ryan McDonagh giving chase to break it up. Pastrnak tried to flip a backhander in at the near post, but Domingue jammed his right leg skate up against the post, blocking Pastrnak's shot with the top of his leg pad. Domingue got much-needed help from McDonagh too, who took away the middle of the ice with his hustle to get back on the play.

"I was pretty lucky," Domingue said. "I probably should have known he didn't have the room to cut to his forehand and he was going to go with his backhand. Lucky save but sometimes you've got to be lucky to be good."

Domingue got better as the game advanced. He was excellent in the final half of the second period when Boston grabbed momentum and held possession for long stretches. He was at his best late in the third with Boston desperate to get back in the game and pushing hard.

"I think actually both goalies played pretty well tonight," Cooper said. "It was an even game. There were chances both ways. There were momentum swings in the game. Big thing for us and where Louis stood tall for us was probably the last eight minutes in the second period where we were pretty careless with the puck. Boston tilted the ice a little bit. It was good to get that period over with and reset the room and the guys a did a pretty good job of that."

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