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  • What we learned: Bruins win a thriller over Lightning

    Post Game

    What we learned: Bruins win a thriller over Lightning

    Tim Rosenthal March 9, 2016

    When looking back at the 2015-16 regular season, Bruins fans will likely look at this recent four-game stretch as a turning point.

    Following their 2-1 win over the Flames just one day after acquiring Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles at the trade deadline, the Bruins embarked on arguably their toughest slate of the season with matchups against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the league-leading Capitals, the resurgent Panthers and the red-hot Lightning. Surely, a .500 record against those four teams would’ve been a decent accomplishment.

    Notching seven of a possible eight points, however, was not expected. But the Bruins did just that.

    In a playoff-type back and forth action, Brad Marchand’s 34th of the season just 10 seconds into overtime put the Black and Gold in a first place tie with the Bolts for first place in the Atlantic Division. For a team that started 0-3-0 to start the regular season, that accomplishment seemed impossible for a Bruins team in transition.

    Here are a few things that we learned from the B’s thrilling 1-0 win over the Bolts.

    Bruins new-look top line continues to shine


    Brad Marchand’s game-winner put the Bruins in a tie with the Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    The Marchand-Patrice Bergeron duo has been one of the NHL’s top combinations this season. All they needed was a right winger to really put them over the top.

    Enter Stempniak, who immediately gave the team a spark upon his arrival. In his first five games, the 33-year-old veteran has six points on a goal and five assists. His only goal was a big one, though, when he delivered a snipe past Panthers goalie Al Montoya to give the B’s a 5-4 win after nearly blowing a three-goal lead in South Florida on Monday.

    Nearly 24 hours later in a game where neither team could capitalize on their chances in a wild back and forth contest, Marchand took Bergeron’s feed and buried a one-timer past Ben Bishop for the game’s only goal. The duo was joined by Torey Krug in the extra session, but make no mistake, Stempniak made his mark again firing three shots on goal and delivering two hits in 14:44 of ice time.

    In their five games as a unit, Marchand, Bergeron and Stempniak have a combined 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists).

    Gustavsson posts his best start of the season


    In his first start since February 22, Jonas Gustavsson played his best game of the season en route to his first shutout of 2015-16. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    At first — even during the second game of a back to back and third game in four nights — the decision seemed puzzling. Jonas Gustavsson, who hadn’t started a game since February 22nd, would be between the Bruins’ pipes with first place on the line.

    It turned out well for all parties involved. Gustavsson made a career-high 42 saves and stood on his head all night long to give his team a chance. Thirty-four of the 42 shots he faced came in the second and third periods. His biggest stop came when he robbed Alex Killorn in the second period going from one post to the other to make the kick save.

    In Gustavsson’s 10 games on the road, including tonight, the veteran backup sports a record of 8-2-0 along with a goals against average of 1.93 and a .933 save percentage. Unquestionably, Gustavsson picked a good time to pad those stats and notch his first shutout of the season.

    An ill-advised penalty for Pastrnak


    Despite tallying a goal against the Panthers, David Pastrnak had a rough outing during the Bruins’ two-day trip to the Sunshine State. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    Luckily for David Pastrnak, his delay of game penalty in the third period didn’t come back to haunt him as the Bruins were able to kill another Lightning power play on a perfect 4-for-4 night. But for a guy who was demoted to the fourth line after making some sloppy plays with the puck in Florida — despite scoring a goal that night — the penalty for shooting the puck over the glass was unquestionably a setback for Pastrnak.

    There’s no denying that the 2014 first round pick is making good progress since last season. But growing pains are a part of the game and Pastrnak is going through a rough stretch. It’s how Pastrnak responds to this stretch of adversity that’s important. Otherwise, Claude Julien will have to cut his minutes.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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