Tampa Bay looked well on its way to its second loss in a row and a second-straight loss to Boston after the Bruins scored three goals in the second period to erase a 2-1 deficit and take a two-goal lead into the second intermission. The Bruins had all the momentum coming out of the locker room for the third period.
The Lightning, who have already wrapped up everything to play for in the regular season other than the NHL win and point records, would have been forgiven for just getting out of the third period without anymore injuries (more on that later).
But, come on, we've seen this from the Lightning before. They're not a team that's going to just mail it in.
Like they've shown all season, the Bolts just find ways to win games. Against Boston, it was Victor Hedman who ignited the comeback, following up Steven Stamkos' missed breakaway opportunity with a rebound score to get the Lightning within a goal of the Bruins and breathe life back into the AMALIE Arena crowd. Nikita Kucherov tied the game with 6:45 remaining, and Anthony Cirelli completed the comeback with :53 seconds to go.
Tampa Bay recorded its 59th win of the season tied for the third-most all-time in the NHL.
Here's how the Bolts got to 59.
Video: BOS@TBL: Kucherov snipes top corner to tie game
1. NEVER SAY DIE
The situation appeared bleak for the Lightning entering the third period.
The middle frame was a disaster for the Bolts. Boston scored three times in the second to stun the Bolts, and it seemed momentum would be hard to swing back in their favor.
But the Lightning never gave up despite the dire situation presented to them. They kept scrapping and clawing to try to get back in the game. When Steven Stamkos missed the net on a breakaway opportunity a little more than five minutes into the third period, it seemed maybe it just wasn't Tampa Bay's night.
Victor Hedman, however, was trailing the play and picked up the rebound at the opposite side of the net from where Stamkos shot. With Tuukka Rask out of position, Hedman brought the puck back in front of goal and shot into the opening before Charlie Coyle could knock him off the puck.
"When Heddy scored early in the third, that kind of gave us a good vibe," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.
With less than seven minutes remaining, David Pastrnak shot from the left wing on a 3-on-2 rush that Andrei Vasilevskiy had to stretch out wide to stop with his right leg pad. The carom went right to Stamkos, who banked the puck off the boards and up ahead to a waiting Nikita Kucherov to start a 2-on-1 break the other way for the Bolts. Kucherov cut into the right circle and called his own number, ripping a world-class shot into the far upper corner to level the score 4-4.
"When you give him open space, he can do that," Cooper said.
The Lightning earned a late power play with 2:58 to go. They couldn't produce the go-ahead goal with the man-advantage, but moments after the power play expired, Ryan McDonagh fed the puck to Mathieu Joseph on the goal line. Joseph one-touched a pass to Anthony Cirelli in the slot, and Cirelli buried the one-timer opportunity to complete the comeback.
"We're never going to give up," Cirelli said of his team's resiliency. "We know we have a good team in here and we just have to play the right way, just never give up and keep going. I think we have the skill to put up goals, and you see that there in the third period."
Video: Cooper | Postgame TBL 5, BOS 4
2. TOUGH PUCK LUCK
Tampa Bay was dealt a blow when Ondrej Palat was hit at the blue line by Connor Clifton in the first period and didn't return the rest of the game after sustaining an upper-body injury.
The Lightning found themselves in more trouble in the second, mainly because they couldn't catch a break during the period.
Brad Marchand scored the second of his two goals on the night by shooting a one-timer from the slot that popped high in the air. Andrei Vasilevskiy couldn't see where the puck was, and it landed right behind him in the blue paint, an unaware Vasilevskiy putting the puck into his own net with his skate.
That goal gave the Bruins a 4-2 lead, their largest advantage of the night.
A little while later, J.T. Miller thought he'd cut the Lightning deficit to one with his shot from above the left circle. The goal horn sounded briefly, but the referee immediately signaled no goal on the ice. Video showed Miller's shot hit the right corner of the goal, traveled through the air directly over the goal line and clanged off the left post before caroming away.
That play more than any other was emblematic of the second period for the Lightning.
"We felt like we had a little bit of some tough puck luck there in the second, but we felt we're tilting the ice probably the last half of the second period," Cooper said. "It was just unfortunate some of the goals that were going in."
The Lightning held the Bruins to 12 shots in the first two periods.
Unfortunately, four of them went in.
"We were feeling better about our game than the score indicated," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said.
That belief carried over into the third period where Vasilevskiy shut the door, Hedman ignited the comeback and Cirelli capped it with his dramatic game-winner.
3. MORE MILESTONES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
It wouldn't be a Tampa Bay Lightning game without more broken records and milestones hit.
The Lightning registered their 32nd home win of the season Monday night to tie the franchise record for most home wins in a season set previously in 2014-15. The Bolts broke the record for home points after picking up No. 66 at AMALIE Arena, one more point than that same 2014-15 team put up.
Steven Stamkos became the second Lightning player this season to reach 40 goals after netting the first of his two markers on the evening. Stamkos recorded the fifth 40-goal season of his career and first since he scored 43 in 2014-15. Stamkos also reached the 90-point mark, the fourth time in his career he's hit that number and first since putting up a career-high 97 points 2011-12.
Stamkos matched Martin St. Louis for most 90-point seasons in Lightning history.
"First couple shots that go in the net, you're going to feel good about yourself the rest of the game," Stamkos said. "It was nice to see those go in. It's been a good stretch as of late, and everyone's just trying to get their game ready for the playoffs."
With Stamkos reaching 90 points, the Lightning now have three players - Stamkos (93), Brayden Point (90) and Nikita Kucherov (121) - with 90 or more points, the most they've ever had in one season in team history.
Kucherov tallied his 121st point with his game-tying goal late in the third period. He has now recorded the second-most points in the NHL by a Russian-born player all-time and needs just six more points to tie Alexander Mogilny's record 127 points from the 1992-93 season.
And with 13 saves in Monday's contest, Andrei Vasilevskiy passed Ben Bishop for most career saves in Lightning history. Vasilevskiy needed just three saves to overtake Bishop entering the game and secured the record for himself in the first period.