TAMPA – The Bruins had been looking for a feel-good win this season, and they finally got it against a Tampa Bay Lightning team they’d been looking up at in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Bruins potted three goals in the second period – including a pair from Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly within 51 seconds of each other that chased goaltender Ben Bishop – and cruised to a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The victory gave the Bruins a perfect four points in their two-game road swing through Florida as they round into midseason form.
The Bruins had jumped out to a lead just 1:32 into the game when Milan Lucic drew the Tampa Bay defenders toward him on a left wing rush, and then fed David Krejci for the goal as he was driving down the middle of the ice.
Adam McQuaid picked up his first goal of the season on a long point shot with Jarome Iginla screening in front of the net, and Bergeron and Kelly added their scores to turn things into a hockey blowout.
Shawn Thornton added a sniper shot under the bar from the left wing in the opening seconds of the third period to give each of Boston’s forward lines a goal in the great all-around effort.
At the other end the B’s defense bottled up Steven Stamkos, and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves for his first shutout of the season.
GOLD STAR: Patrice Bergeron had his best game of the season as he generated 11 shots attempts, won 13-of-25 face-offs, scored a second period goal that was part of two scores in 51 seconds chasing Ben Bishop out of the game and led all Bruins forwards with 20:25 of ice time. The goal was exactly how the Bruins would have drawn it for Bergeron’s line prior to the start of the season: Reilly Smith intercepted an errant pass and immediately turned it into transition offense with Bergeron hammering home the goal as the trailer on the play. Bergeron had an average start to the season while waiting for new linemates to gel with him, and it seems like that is finally coming.
BLACK EYE: Victor Hedman was on ice for all five of the goals against for Tampa and finished with a game-worst minus-5 rating. It started with Hedman getting distracted by a Milan Lucic drive down the left wing despite Sami Salo already manning that side of the ice, and ultimately allowing David Krejci to drive the middle of the ice and tap an easy goal past the bewildered defenseman pair. Then Hedman continued to play ineffectual defense around the net as Tampa’s supposed “franchise defenseman”, which it’s very clear he is not. It’s always going to be a tough road for the Lightning as long as their D-men are that leaky.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins jumped all over the Lightning early with goals in the first few minutes of the first and second period, but it was two goals within 51 seconds scored by Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly that chased Ben Bishop out of the game. That turned a close hockey divisional hockey game into a one-sided blowout victory for the Black and Gold that had members of the Lightning shaking their heads. That’s the kind of reality check that could send a team like Tampa into an early season tailspin.
HONORABLE MENTION: Adam McQuaid scored his first goal of the year, blocked three shots and played snarling defense in front of the Boston net with a tough 17:54 in the victory. That the effort came after a healthy scratch from the B’s coaching staff was a very good sign, and also displayed exactly why McQuaid should be in the lineup given his strength and mean streak around the net. The B’s defenseman finished off his night by dropping the gloves with Nate Thompson after the two got their feet tangled going into the boards.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of Bruins forwards that didn’t factor into the scoresheet (Gregory Campbell) in a victory that highlighted the team’s depth on all four lines.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I guess that proves that when I get a wide open look on a fresh sheet of ice that I'm an okay hockey player.” –Shawn Thornton, waxing poetic about his third period sniper shot just under the crossbar with back leg raised that capped off the 5-0 win.