TAMPA The Lightning and Bruins are nearly two years removed from their 2011 Eastern Conference Final. Thursday’s tilt between the two teams suggested otherwise.
In the first meeting between the two teams in the abbreviated 2013 season, there was a definite playoff feel during an entertaining game, evenly played game.
Nathan Horton scored twice for Boston to lead the Bruins to a 4-2 victory in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204 at The Forum. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand added a goal and an assist apiece for Boston while Tuukka Rask made 23 saves for the victory.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, Teddy Purcell notched two assists while rookie Cory Conacher added a goal. The loss snaps Tampa Bay’s modest winning streak at two games. The Lightning, however, remain in a first-place tie with Carolina in the Southeast Division after the Hurricanes lost at home to Winnipeg on Thursday.
Tampa Bay travels to Carolina on Saturday.
Boston jumped out to the early lead with two quick goals in the first four minutes. First, after Victor Hedman made a poke check on a Bruins’ rush, Dougie Hamilton stepped into the zone to keep the puck in play before firing off a shot. The shot was stopped by Linback’s right pad, but the puck when right to Horton for an easy rebound shot 1:11 into the game. Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 just 2:39 later when Victor Hedman lost the puck to Marchand behind the net, allowing Marchand to find an open Bergeron in the right circle at 3:50.
Tampa Bay rebounded from the slow start to cut the deficit in half as Marc-Andre Bergeron threw a puck on net from the far left boards. After a short scramble in front, Purcell found the puck at his feet and fed Stamkos coming down the slot for a wrist shot at 8:13. Stamkos has now scored in three consecutive games after going without a goal in five straight.
Rookie Cory Conacher finally pulled Tampa Bay even, finishing off a 3-on-2 as he was left unchecked coming down the left wing side before getting a wrist shot past Rask at 9:00 of the second period. The goal was Conacher’s sixth of the season, and first in nine games.
The game didn’t stay tied for long, however, as Marchand regained the lead for Boston at 13:58, finding the puck on his stick after Matt Carle blocked a Tyler Seguin shot before getting a wrist shot past Lindback for a 3-2 Boston lead.
The Bruins made it 4-2 early in the third as Horton had a terrific deflection on a Zdeno Chara shot from the left point, as Horton came off the left boards to get his stick on Chara’s shot-pass 2:33 into the period.