The NHL season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. During the break in the action, NHL.com writers will each look back at his or her favorite memory of the season so far. Today, Editor-in-Chief Bill Price writes about the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins at TD Garden on March 7.
My son turned 17 on March 4, and he wanted to go to an NHL game to celebrate.
But not any NHL game, an out-of-town game.
Living in New Jersey, we had been to a few New York Rangers games and a Philadelphia Flyers game this season. He was also at Prudential Center on Feb. 22 when Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils.
So this special birthday game required a road trip.
The best option was the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins at TD Garden on March 7, three days after his birthday. What could be better than two division rivals going head-to-head on a Saturday night in Boston with the end of the regular season seemingly a few weeks away?
As it turned out, nothing could have topped this game. The Lightning, thanks to two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill in the first period, won 5-3 in a wild affair to close within seven points of the Bruins for first in the Atlantic Division. Though catching the Bruins may have been out of the question, it was clear the Lightning were hitting their stride heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: Shorthanded goals lead Lightning past Bruins
It was also clear the animosity between the teams was rising. A total of 94 penalty minutes were handed out (48 for the Lightning, 46 for the Bruins). The intensity, and the fact that the Bruins cut a 3-0 Lightning lead down to 3-2 at 18:37 of the second period, made for a rollicking third period on the ice and in the stands. The crowd was electric, hanging on every pass, hit, shot and save. It was a playoff atmosphere in the second weekend of March.
Though there were reports of a coronavirus outbreak at a Boston hotel that weekend, and there were TD Garden employees wiping down hand rails on escalators, I don't think anyone in the arena that night thought it would be at least a few months before they saw another Bruins game in person.
As my son and I left the Garden, we talked about how great a Lightning-Bruins playoff series would be based on that game, and how intriguing the final month of the regular season would be. We even caught an American Hockey League game between Hartford and Springfield on the drive back to New Jersey on Sunday.
It was a great game and a great weekend of bonding over hockey. Of course, the season was paused a few days later due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Though we miss the game, memories of that night have us excited for what's to come when the NHL resumes play.