The Tampa Bay Lightning won for the third time in their last four games and center Steven Stamkos continued his hot streak as the Lightning took down the Boston Bruins, 3-2, at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday evening.
Stamkos has been playing at a torrid pace as he has scored 6 goals in the Lightning’s last 4 games and he was ever-present on the power play with his third power play goal of those last 6 at 12:35 in the second period.
“We are still a team that wants to make plays, so it’s just knowing when the defenseman is gapped and when he isn’t,” Stamkos noted. “Our tendency – sometimes when things aren’t going well – is to want to go make plays at their blue line and then that leads to a turnover and transition. It’s making the proper reads and we have been doing that lately.”
Nikita Kucherov made the proper read in feeding Stamkos for the tying goal late in the second period.
After Boston defenseman John Moore took a tripping penalty at 12:29, Kucherov coralled the puck off the face off and found Stamkos propped up in the middle of the ice. Stamkos pushed the puck past Bruins goalie Tukka Rask to tie the game at 1-1.
“Guys who are used to getting points, they want to get them,” Lightning coach John Cooper commented. “Of late, we have had to make the effort to keep pucks out of the net. When you keep your discipline in your game, good things can happen. The guys really understand that and we have to protect. If we can get over 3 and keep teams under 3, we might get some of these.”
The power play returned in the third period as Victor Hedman fired a blast from between the circles that was just wide of Rask on the right side of the net. Kucherov once again gathered the puck and hit center Brayden Point on the right side and with a back-handed pass. Point slid it past Rask for a 2-1 lead at 4:07.
“I think we have committed ourselves to getting the puck in and getting it back with the aggressiveness of our forecheck while using our speed,” Stamkos said. “The skill set takes over. It’s not the pass, pass, pass.”
Stamkos wasn’t through with his production. He caught the Bruins defenseman too high in their own zone and was able to gathered the puck in the high slot. He snapped a wrist shot off Rask’s shoulder for his second goal of the night at 15:13 to give the Lightning a 3-1 advantage.
“To get two power plays and to not give any up and especially to take only 2 penalties – that’s what we have to do to compete with the big boys in the East,” Cooper said.
Despite a first period which was played on the Bruins end of the ice, Boston led 1-0 after 20 minutes on a Patrice Burgeron goal at 4:26.
“It was tough because I thought we really controlled a lot of the first period and to be down right away like we were, our guys grinded and stuck with it,” explained Cooper. “The Bruins are a deep team. Special teams are big and you have to win those.”
Stamkos’s 2-goal evening was his second multiple goal game of the season and the 75th of his career as he paces the Lightning with 13 goals and 7 power play goals.
Kucherov recorded 2 assists as it ended a 3-game drought without a point.
Tampa Bay outshot Boston, 31-29, while the Bruins had 13 penalty minutes to 11 for the Lightning. The Bruins’ Zdeno Chara and Lightning winger Patrick Maroon were assessed 5-minute fighting majors just 27 seconds into the first period.