The Boston Bruins bulldozed their way back into the win column on Saturday with a 5-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each tallied a pair of goals while Linus Ullmark notched 27 saves as the Bruins turned in one of their most well-rounded performances of the season.
“There was a lot to like,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Boston’s convincing win at Amalie Arena. “I think our puck battles, a lot of our goals were generated by winning pucks on the boards, playing north, minimizing mistakes, in terms of them getting easy chances. That’s what I liked best about our game. We played a hard-to-play-against type of style tonight.”
A wonky goal from Pastrnak 1:11 into the contest set the tone and the Bruins never took their foot off the pedal.
Pastrnak doubled Boston’s lead nearly five minutes later, sweeping in a rebound around Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy for his 11th tuck of the year.
Less than a minute into the second period, Marchand redirected a Mike Reilly point shot to put the Bruins ahead 3-0.
Later in the middle frame, Anton Blidh scored after Oskar Steen won a puck battle in front and found his fellow Swedish countryman at the hash marks, to give Boston a comfortable 4-0 advantage.
Tampa Bay pushed back in the third period with goals from Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point. But the Lightning’s comeback bid fell short after Marchand netted his second of the night on an empty-netter at 17:11 of the third, sealing the Bruins’ feel-good win and moving their record to 18-11-2.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s first regular-season win over Tampa Bay in nearly two years.
Pastrnak is heating up
With three goals in his last three games, the Bruins’ sniper appears to be turning a corner offensively after not registering a single goal in December.
Pastrnak’s two first-period goals on Saturday changed the game’s complexion rather quickly as he continues to gain chemistry with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula on Boston’s second line. Hall extended his point streak to five straight games after notching primary assists on both of No. 88’s goals.
Pastrnak is arguably Boston’s top weapon with the puck. The 2020 Rocket Richard winner tends to score in bunches whenever he’s feeling it.
The dynamic Pastrnak led all Bruins skaters with seven shots on goal Saturday, including a slap shot from the slot during the second period that Vasilevskiy kicked away, robbing the Czech playmaker of another hat trick.
Boston’s penalty kill shined bright in multiple spots
The Lightning are one of a handful of teams in the NHL you don’t want to give a two-man advantage to. However, a pair of minor penalties to Boston’s two top penalty killers in Marchand and Patrice Bergeron provided Tampa Bay with 47 seconds of a 5-on-3 time midway through the second period.
With the Bruins leading 3-0, the Lightning easily could’ve tilted the ice in their favor with a goal or two during that power play. But Boston escaped no worse for wear and kept its three-goal cushion intact.
Tampa Bay had another chance on the man-advantage late in the third, with the Bruins up 4-2. The Lightning pulled Vasielvisky late on their final power play attempt, but once again, Boston’s penalty kill came through in another clutch situation.
The Bruins killed off all four of Tampa Bay’s power plays, with Ullmark’s solid outing contributing to their shorthanded success.
Foligno exits with injury as uncertainty remains around McAvoy’s and DeBrusk’s returns
The Bruins turned in one of their better outings of the season without their top defenseman and one of their bottom-six forwards. They also lost another veteran cog to injury early on Saturday.
Nick Foligno needed assistance to get off the ice after he got tangled up around the Lightning net during the first period. The former Columbus Blue Jackets captain didn’t return and Cassidy didn’t provide any further update.
Now likely down a forward for Monday’s game at Washington, Cassidy also wasn’t sure if Jake DeBrusk will return by then. Cassidy confirmed that DeBrusk has mild symptoms after the Bruins winger entered COVID-19 protocol last week.
Charlie McAvoy was a game-time decision against the Lightning, but a nagging lower-body injury still hadn’t settled down, prompting the Bruins to let their star defenseman rest another day.
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