Brad Marchand and the Bruins won their third straight game Tuesday behind a 4-3 comeback win over the Lightning. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
In the world of masterpieces, the Bruins painted some more ugly motel wall art Tuesday night against the Lightning. But this time of year, the results are all that matter, and the Bruins had those, too, as the club pulled off their third straight comeback victory behind a 4-3 final.
(For a complete recap of the win, click here.)
Back from the All-Star break — which came at a great time given the club’s general fatigue from a hellacious opening 52-game slate charged with back-to-backs and countless three games in four night runs but also a bad time given the consistency the Bruins were beginning to generate with two straight character wins — the first period back from break was largely uneventful for each team. If anything, the Bruins were lucky to escape the first still scoreless, as Colin Miller plucked a puck that was probably about 90% over the goal line off the line and prevented an 0-1 hole through 20 minutes of play.
Miller was not able to save the B’s from a deficit in the second period, though, as Alex Killorn beat Tuukka Rask midway into the middle frame. Given the lethargic nature of the 28 minutes that came before, it seemed as if this night would be the natural, rusty comedown from the highs of wins and the thoughts of positive strides within the B’s game.
After all, it’s been the year’s theme.
But with a kick-to-consciousness that came with Killorn’s goal against, the Bruins focused on creating chances against an aggressive Tampa Bay defensive corps, and found chances to connect on against Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, with two goals in 1:51 to close out the period, including one from David Krejci with just :00.9 seconds left, to escape the second with a 2-1 lead.
In a positive situation (playing with a lead in the third period) when they should have been in anything but, the Bruins were once again victimized by timely scoring from Killorn, as a defensive breakdown in front of the net allowed Killorn to score his second goal of the night, which brought the B’s and Bolts to a 2-2 tie and Amalie Arena to life.
Again, and just a few minutes later, the Bruins answered, and it was captain Zdeno Chara that came through with a slapshot goal.
Frank Vatrano added a power-play goal to put the final nail in the coffin, and the Bruins hung on, even when it became a bit more of a white-knuckle ride ending thanks to the Bolts’ third goal of the night, for a 4-3 final.
With the win, the Bruins have victories in three straight games for the first time since Dec. 1 through Dec. 5, and have done it on the backs of their best players. It’s been more than just Bergeron and Marchand, too, which has been a great sign of life for this team. Tonight, it was Krejci and Chara who really appeared to step up for the club, as Krejci had a goal and assist in almost 19 minutes of time on ice, which Chara contributed a goal and three shots in just over 22 minutes of time on ice.
There’s been a lot of talk about the belief that this coach still has in his players and vice versa, but it would have meant nothing if the club’s best players continued to have random disappearing acts for prolonged stretches (read as: losing streaks). And when the club’s best players show up, the complementary talents follow their lead, which is what you saw with a grind-it-out approach from every skater, including big nights from Matt Beleskey (winning puck battles) and Colin Miller (the guy did it all).
Most importantly, though, this is a game that the Bruins should win and, well, did win.
The victory gives the Bruins eight points of separation with the Lightning in spite of two games in hand for the Bolts, and creates some much needed distance given the amount of teams that are already chasing the Bruins.
The Bruins are back in action Wednesday night against the Capitals.