Despite the fact that the Boston Bruins won this game, there were two positive takeaways for the Lightning. First, the Lightning had a terrific response to Monday’s poor performance in Philadelphia. They fired 42 shots on Boston goalie Jonas Gustavsson and carried play for much of the final two periods. If not for Gustavsson, the Lightning would have likely won this game in regulation. Second, even though the Lightning didn’t win the game, they still gained a point in the standings. While it’s true that this is not the time of the year for moral victories – games in which you play well but don’t get the result – it’s also true that this wasn’t just a moral victory. The point gained in the overtime loss helped the Lightning hold onto first place in the division. Even more importantly, they gained a point on Pittsburgh and Detroit (the two current wildcard teams), which both lost in regulation and on idle Philadelphia, which holds the ninth spot in the Conference. This point gained might not have helped as much if the Lightning were below the playoff cut line, but now that they’re above the cut line, every point gained gets them closer to clinching a playoff berth.
Speaking of the playoffs, this game had the feel of a playoff game. Both teams competed hard and did well to generate scoring chances. The Bruins had more of them in the first period, including a Brad Marchand chance in the opening seconds of the game and later, a Marchand shorthanded breakaway.
But beginning in the second period, the Lightning began dictating play decisively. Both teams had played the night before and traveled to Tampa afterwards. As the game progressed, the Lightning looked like the fresher team, though. Over the final two periods, the Lightning enjoyed most of the puck possession. They outshot the Bruins, 34-21, in the final two periods and badly outchanced them. But Gustavsson was unbeatable. He made a number of fantastic saves, including a lunging pad stop on Alex Killorn in the second period.
While the Bruins weren’t as noisy in the offensive zone during the final two periods, they did generate some isolated looks. But Ben Bishop made two key saves on Loui Eriksson and another stop on Lee Stempniak to keep Boston off the board.
Three-on-three overtime is often wide open – and the Lightning have excelled in the format so far this year. Prior to this game, the Bolts had won seven of eight games that had ended in OT. But they didn’t win this one. After winning the opening faceoff to begin OT, Patrice Bergeron took a pass from Torey Krug and raced into the Lightning end. He put a perfect pass on the stick on Marchand, who was busting towards the net. Marchand redirected the puck past Bishop to give Boston the extra point.
But the Lightning will take the point they earned with this solid performance and put it in the bank. They’ll look to play a similar type of game when they host the Flyers on Friday.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Gustavsson’s saves, which kept the Lightning off the board.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Jonas Gustavsson – Bruins. 42 saves for SO win.
2.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 32 saves in OTL.
3.Brad Marchand – Bruins. OT winner.