It looked as if the Boston Bruins were going to have a cake walk of a win last night in Sunrise, Florida against the Panthers. They held two three-goal leads on the night, but that wasn’t the case, as the Panthers came storming back tying the game 4-4 forcing overtime.
In the extra session, Lee Stempniak scored his first goal in a B’s sweater on a snipe that allowed the Black and Gold to breathe a sigh of relief for notching two points after coughing up two big leads.
Patrice Bergeron netted two goals in the victory including the first goal for a third straight game. Tuukka Rask stopped 47 of 51 shots on the night saving Boston on numerous occasions. Head coach Claude Julien passed Art Ross to become Boston’s all-time coaching wins leader as well Monday night in South Florida.
Now, the B’s will have little time to rest as they face one of the hottest teams in the NHL — the Tampa Bay Lightning — on Tuesday night. Boston trails the Bolts by just one point for first place in the Atlantic division. The Bolts have taken two out of three from Boston so far this season most recently in Boston on Februrary 28th where they scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 thumping.
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Bruins 37-23-7 (81 points), Lightning 39-23-4 (82 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: Amalie Arena
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Lee Stempniak
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro-Noel Acciari-Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Dennis Seidenberg
John-Michael Liles-Zach Trotman
Lightning projected lines
Alex Killorn-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette-Valtteri Filppula-J.T. Brown
Brian Boyle-Vladislav Namestnikov-Jonathan Marchessault
Matt Carle-Victor Hedman
Nikita Nesterov-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr
Matchup to watch: Ryan Callahan versus the B’s blue line
In their last meeting on February 28th, Callahan gave the B’s defensemen fits. He was no question one of the best players on the ice that night. He stuffed the stat sheet with two goals, an assist, six shots, 4:20 on the penalty kill and 18:12 of total ice time.
Sure, he isn’t even the best player on his own line (Stamkos), but he has to be accounted for because he does all the little things right and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the dirty areas as we saw two weeks ago.
The B’s defense will surely be tired during this back-to-back stretch, but keeping tabs on Callahan must be a priority or they could be in for a long night.
Storyline to watch: Will the B’s start slow?
Over the past three games against elite competition, the B’s jumped out to an early lead. When will that trend end?
The Black and Gold will be playing their second game in as many nights Tuesday and notably coming off an overtime win against the Panthers. Yes, it’s great they notched two points Monday, but extra minutes for key players could come back to hurt the B’s down the stretch tonight especially early on.
This problem could have been avoided if the B’s kept building to their three-goal lead(s) last night against the Panthers instead of allowing them to creep back into the game.
We’ve seen Bergeron score the first goal in the last three games and if he can make it a fourth game Tuesday night, the B’s could be in better shape.