The storyline entering this game for the Tampa Bay Lightning was injuries. When the Lightning hit the ice in Boston, they were missing Ryan Malone, Mike Lundin, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and captain Vincent Lecavalier. They would also be taking on a Bruins team that just completed a perfect 6-game road trip. The Lightning put forth a good fight, but fell to the Bruins by a final score of 2-1
The first period saw all kind of opportunities for both teams, including Steven Stamkos and Milan Lucic, who both hit posts. The Lightning took a 10-8 shot advantage with them into the first intermission. The first period also saw Mike Smith making many huge saves when the Bruins were buzzing, including robbing Patrice Bergeron with his glove.
The second period saw the nastiness pick up, starting when Shawn Thorton appeared to connect on a knee-on-knee hit to Steve Downie. Downie would later leave the game with a lower body injury. The Lightning would get on the board first when Eric Brewer connected on a blast from the point that appeared to hit a Boston defender in front. The Bruins struck back just over two minutes later when Steve Kampfer took a slapshot that Mike Smith did not see, and it ended up in the back of the net to tie the game at one a piece. The nastiness continued when Milan Lucic crosschecked Sean Bergenheim in the head. The resulting play put the Lightning on a 5-3 powerplay for almost a full two minutes, but the Lightning failed to convert.
In the third, Mike Smith continued his strong play, making multiple key saves at key times. The Lightning had many opportunities to take a lead, but Tim Thomas said no to each of them. It was not until the final minutes of the third, when a mad scramble ensued in front of the net, and the puck dribbled to Milan Lucic. Lucic shot the puck into a wide open net over a down and out Mike Smith.
The Lightning would pull Mike Smith late in the third, but they were unable to get a good shot on the Boston goal.
There is a lot of good to look at in this game. When you have as many injuries that this team had in this game, it says a lot that they were able to over come and keep the game close. At the same time, this contest shows just how badly the Lightning need to get healthy. When you lose the talent of Lecavalier, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Mike Lundin, Ryan Malone, and Steve Downie for half a game tonight, that is a lot to overcome.
The Lightning will return home now to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, with that game getting under way at a special start time of 7pm.
Follow Mike on twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorcoran81