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game recap

Lightning defeat Bruins, gain in wild-card race

Tampa Bay three points behind Boston; Nikita Kucherov scores hat trick

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning closed within three points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference by defeating them 6-3 at TD Garden on Thursday.

"There's a couple teams in the race still and it's about who is going to have the best record over these 10 games," said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who scored in the second period. "We're off to a good start but that was just one [game]. There are still miles to go."

Nikita Kucherov scored a hat trick and Jonathan Drouin scored the go-ahead goal at 4:12 of third period for the Lightning (35-29-9), who have one game in hand on the Bruins.


WATCH: All Lightning vs. Bruins highlights


Boston (38-30-6), which has lost four in a row, leads the New York Islanders (who have two games in hand) by two points for the second wild card. The Bruins trail the Toronto Maple Leafs, who defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2, by three points for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Kucherov scored once in the second period and twice in the third and has 37 goals this season, including six in the past three games and 16 in his past 15 games.

"Just trying to do my best and help the team as much as I can," he said. "Just try to play simple and shoot more pucks."

Video: TBL@BOS: Kucherov tallies third career hat trick

Kucherov's second goal made it 5-3 after his one-timer deflected off Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid at 10:11. He completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 18:03 to make it 6-3.

Brayden Point scored in the second period, and Peter Budaj made 28 saves for the Lightning, who trailed by one goal three times and ended a three-game losing streak.

David Pastrnak, Riley Nash and Chara scored, and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves for the Bruins.

"Some of it is you have to give the other team credit to the other team for their urgency," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "In tonight's situation, Tampa [Bay], they want to play into the spring as well. We need to be ready after we score to keep pushing. And part of it you can examine, did we get the right matchup? But at the end of the day, I think it is a focus and it's urgency and it's understanding time and score. We did not have a good comprehension of that tonight, and of late."

Pastrnak scored a power-play goal 1:33 into the second period to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Point scored 44 seconds later from the slot to tie it 1-1 at 2:17.

Chara's shorthanded goal made it 2-1 at 7:50. Kucherov scored at 8:14 to tie it 2-2.

Nash scored at 13:18 for a 3-2 lead, but Stralman scored on a 4-on-2 at 14:53 to tie it 3-3.

Video: TBL@BOS: Pastrnak opens the scoring with PPG


Goal of the game

Kucherov scored his first goal when he took a cross-ice pass from Drouin and shot it past Rask from the bottom of the right circle.

Video: TBL@BOS: Kucherov pots PPG off Drouin's great feed


Save of the game

Budaj stopped Frank Vatrano's one-timer from just below the right dot at 2:33 of the third period to keep the game tied 3-3.

Video: TBL@BOS: Budaj denies Vatrano's power-play chance


Highlight of the game

After a Jake Dotchin steal in the neutral zone, Alex Killorn gained the offensive zone and passed the puck to Drouin, who beat Rask with a slap shot from the left dot.

Video: TBL@BOS: Drouin scorches slapper past Rask for lead


Unsung performance of the game

At 5:03 of the third period, Brad Marchand drove to the net and his backhand hit the outside of the net. Budaj used his left skate to pin the puck against the post and then secured the puck by closing his skates together around the puck and the post to keep the Lightning ahead 4-3.


They said it

"Find the mistakes, correct it, go to work and fix it. And show up Saturday [against the Islanders] with the urgency that we need to correct those mistakes and we've got to work through it." -- Bruins defenseman Torey Krug on how Boston can end its four-game losing streak


"Every year he just keeps elevating his game. And right now he's playing with a lot of confidence now, especially in the offensive zone. It was a matter of just getting him really to shoot pucks. You look back maybe a month, month and a half ago, you'd look at the stat sheet, he wouldn't have a shot on goal." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Nikita Kucherov


Need to know

The Lightning got their first win against the Bruins this season (1-2-1). ... Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison was helped off the ice after sustaining a lower-body injury at 5:24 of the second period. Cooper did not have an update after the game.

What's next

Lightning: At the Detroit Red Wings on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, SUN, NHL.TV)

Bruins: At the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NESN, NHL.TV)


Video: Kucherov's hat trick powers Bolts past Bruins, 6-3

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