BOSTON – Only time will tell if the Boston Bruins' performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning is an indication that they're ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. All that's certain for now is that the Bruins finally played their style of game in a 2-0 victory at TD Garden on Thursday night.
Tuukka Rask recorded his fifth shutout of the season with 30 saves, Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille scored goals and the Bruins won two fights, as Boston bounced back from its worst loss of the season Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
"Like I said this morning, we're going to find out quickly if it was just a little bump in the road or whether it was a step back," coach Claude Julien said. "I thought our guys played hard tonight. I'm not looking for perfection, I'm looking for reaction -- and overall, I thought we played hard, we moved the puck quickly and when there was a breakdown Tuukka was there to make the big saves."
The Lightning, who boast the top two scorers in the NHL, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, were shut out for just the second time this season. Tampa Bay has won just once in its last seven outings. Rask stopped 12 shots in the third, and Tom Pyatt hit a post as Tampa Bay failed to get on the scoreboard.
St. Louis has 58 points and Stamkos 56 with one game remaining in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.
"I think we played a pretty solid game on the road against a good team," Stamkos said after he fired four shots on net. "You know, they didn't go in. We had some good chances so their goalie played well. It's just one of those games that you have to take the positives. We made a couple of mistakes that ended up in our net, but other than that it was a pretty solid game against a good team."
The Bruins were 1-4-1 in their last six before defeating the Lightning and maintaining control of their own destiny in the race for first place in the Northeast Division. The Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are tied with 61 points. The Bruins have two games left, while the Canadiens have just one.
Boston took the lead early in the second period. Brad Marchand gained the zone and skated across the ice before passing the puck back to Seidenberg at the right point. The defenseman stopped the puck and then slapped it through a Patrice Bergeron screen and past Anders Lindback at 4:22.
Rask preserved the one-goal lead with an astonishing glove save on Stamkos at the end of a 2-on-1 with Martin St. Louis at 12:20. The goaltender had to make a quick reaction to move from his right to the left to make the grab.
He didn't want to take much credit for the show-stopper, though.
"No, you know what, those kind of saves, I would say a lot of it is luck, too," Rask said. "You just kind of throw yourself out there. For me, I get better feeling when I'm just square and the puck hits me and I don't give up rebounds. It's pretty easy to get carried away when you make highlight saves, so you just try to stay calm after you make a save like that."
The Bruins quickly added to their lead after the electrifying save.
After Shawn Thornton forced a turnover at the Tampa Bay blue line, Gregory Campbell wound up with the puck to the left of the slot. Daniel Paille then one-timed Campbell's cross-ice feed into the net for a 2-0 lead at 13:39.
Struggling Milan Lucic kept the momentum rolling for the Bruins before the period ended, as he engaged in his first fight in more than a month and got the better of Keith Aulie. Lucic finished with four hits in the game.