|Bruins-Lightning Game Day… 5-3, Bruins Final||12.08.08 at 5:20 pm ET|
The Tampa Bay Lightning made life a little tougher than expected in the closing moments as Paul Szczechura scored with 19.0 seconds remaining to make it a one-goal game, 4-3. But P.J. Axelsson, who has been snake bit this season, including earlier in the game when he was stopped on a penalty shot, fired his first goal into an open net with 10.0 seconds remaining to seal the 5-3 win.
The B’s came out on fire, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after one before Tampa Bay took advantage of some sloppiness in the second and third.
“I thought we played with fire tonight. We’re not going to win many games playing like that,” coach Claude Julien said afterward.
It was Boston’s tenth straight win at home, a new record for the TD Banknorth Garden, dating back to the days of the FleetCenter. After starting 0-1-1 in their first two home games, the Bruins now stand 10-1-1 on home ice.
Martin St. Louis re-directed a shot from Vincent Lecavalier at 9:27 of the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning cut the Bruins lead to 4-2, at 9:27 of the third.
After Tampa Bay’s Adam Hall crashed the net and put back a loose puck to make it 3-1 Boston, the Bruins have had their chances to blow open a two-goal game late in the second.
P.J. Axelsson, with 10:28 remaining in the second, was awarded a penalty shot when he was hooked from behind on a clear path to goalie Mike Smith. But Smith came up big, stopping Axelsson down low and keeping the Bruins lead at three goals. Tampa Bay remained on the power play.
Chuck Kobasew was stoned by Smith with 3:17 remaining in the second. But a five-on-three power play was the back-breaker for the Lightning as David Krejci fed Zdeno Chara at the top of the left circle. Chara’s slap shot bomb was too much for Smith, making it 4-1.
The Lightning, who are just 1-4-4 in the nine games under new coach Rick Tocchet, showed their true grit in the second, outshooting Boston 9-7 and showing some signs of life.
So far so quiet in the second. After outshooting the Lightning 13-5 in the first, Tampa took four of the first six shots in the second and each team is 0-for-1 on the power play in the middle stanza.
On their second power play of the night the Bruins opened the flood gates on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
They were unable to score on their first one when Steven Stamkos was called for holding the stick. But as that penalty expired, Paul Ranger was called for slashing. Milan Lucic just missed Phil Kessel who was coming down the slot for a shot on an open net. But moments later Dennis Wideman found Lucic in the low slot for his seventh goal of the season at 6:44. Bruins are 1-for-2 on the man advantage. Kessel also got an assist on the goal that beat Tampa Bay netminder Mike Smith, extending Kessel’s career-best point streak to 12 games.
Less than three minutes later the Bruins showed exactly why when things are going well, they’re REALLY going well. Kessel fired a pass intended for Lucic on the right wing. Ranger raced back trying to get in position to make a play. Well he did… for the Bruins. The puck went off the back of his left leg, off the cross bar and fell just behind the red line for Kessel’s 17th at 9:29. That extended his goal streak to six games.
Then, just 77 seconds later, Michael Ryder took a pass from Shane Hnidy and wrist a shot far side past Smith for his seventh. The crowd gave Smith a Bronx Cheer when he saved the next shot he faced.
The shots on goal at the end of the first genuinely reflect how much Boston outplayed Tampa Bay, with the Bruins holding a 13-5 advantage.
Also… Tim Thomas is 7-1-1 in his last nine starts coming in. … The Bruins have a nine-game home winning streak after losing their first two. … The Bruins have averaged 5.1 goals, outscoring their opponents 46-18 over that stretch. Their last loss was to Toronto on Oct. 23. … Dennis Wideman’s assist on Lucic’s goal was his 100th career point. … The Bruins are 7-2-1 when they lead after one period. Coming off a 4-0 win against Florida Saturday night, the Bruins are riding a shutout streak of 138 minutes, 39 seconds heading into the second period, dating back to Martin St. Louis’ goal at 1:21 of the first period against Tampa Bay last Thursday.