The message was clear and concise – win and you’re in. Lose, and lose complete control of your playoff destiny for the Bruins. The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Boston. Tampa is the team that’s directly chasing the Bruins four points back with a game in hand. If the Bruins win in regulation and deny Tampa of any points in the standings, the Bruins would have the tiebreaker, and would officially lock in a playoff spot. Newcomer, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, did not play as he was sorting out immigration issues.
The first period was one that was decidedly in Boston’s favor, although there were no goals that were scored. The Bruins carried most of the play up until Brad Marchand was assessed a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing. The Lightning would finish the final forty three seconds of the first period with the man advantage. The Tampa power play would carry over into the second. The Bruins killed off the initial portion of the penalty, and the teams went to the locker room tied up at 0-0. The Bruins boasted a 9-4 shot advantage.
WITH THE DAUNTING TASK OF KILLING JUST OVER 4:00 WITH MARCHAND IN THE BOX, THE BRUINS WENT TO WORK.
The Bruins limited the Lightning to only two shots on goal and killed the major penalty. It took only a couple more minutes after the kill for trade deadline acquisition, Drew Stafford, to light the lamp on a gorgeous backhander. McQuaid and Krejci got the assists on the first goal of the contest, and the Bruins kept the foot on the gas, and Rask was up to the task. The Bruins struck again after McQuaid and rugged Bolts forward were assessed matching roughing minors. Riley Nash took a nifty Kevan Miller pass and cross-creased the puck to a wide open David Pastrnak, and Pastrnak made no mistake. It was Pastrnak’s 33rd goal of the season, and it came 16:06 into the second to give the B’s a two goal lead.
THE BRUINS FOUND THEMSELVES TWENTY MINUTES AWAY FROM PUNCHING THEIR TICKET TO THE POSTSEASON.
The third found the Lightning pushing the pace, and the Bruins dodged a bullet. Kucherov wired a shot off of the post and it stayed out early in the period. The Bruins found themselves with a power play opportunity before the midway mark of the third. Krug touch passed a beautiful pass over to Zdeno Chara who took a booming slapshot to extend the lead to 3-0. It was an incredibly timely goal by the Bruins captain.
The clock was the Bruins ally after the third goal. Boston proceeded to clog up the neutral zone and deny easy entry by Tampa, and the Bolts were clearly getting frustrated. The Bolts threw everything and anything towards Rask’s cage, but they had nothing going for them on this night. Pastrnak scored his 34th of the season with an empty net goal 18:58 into the third. The Bruins secured the win by the score of 4-0, and Rask earned yet another shutout in the biggest game of his season.