The Boston Bruins are officially in a slump. The Tampa Bay Lightning handed the Bruins their second straight 3-2 loss and their fifth straight defeat as the Bruins are now 0-4-1 in their last five games. The Lightning has now won three straight games and is two points out of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
Steven Stamkos scored two goals, including what proved to be the game-winner at 15:13 of the third period. Brayden Point scored the other Lightning goal and Tampa Bay has now won five straight games Patrice Bergeron and John Moore scored for the Bruins.
The Bruins not only fell victim to the vaunted Lightning powerplay as the Bolts went 2-for-3 on the man advantage, but also to their own powerplay that has suddenly become anemic after an amazing first two months of the season. The Boston powerplay is now 2-for-28 in their last eight games.
Tuukka Rask did all he could to help the Bruins snap their skid, stopping 28 of 31 Lightning shots. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the win.
Bergeron’s goal 4:26 into the first period was trademark Bergeron as the Bruins center dished the puck off to Brad Marchand who was coming down the wing and circled around behind the net to find Bergeron plowing through three Lightning players in front for the one-timer past Vasilevskiy for a 1-0 Bruins lead and Bergeron’s 12th lamplighter of the season. It was also Bergeron’s second goal in three games since returning from a lower-body injury this past Monday after missing seven games. McAvoy got the secondary assist for his second helper in his last two games.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 13, 2019
The Lightning had a chance to tie it later in the period on the first of three powerplays in the game when John Moore went to the sin-bin for the first of two tripping calls against him at 12:44. Rask was the Bruins’ best penalty killer though as he made three saves during the kill and kept the game at 1-0 Bruins. Rask also came up huge in the final minutes of the opening frame and finished with seven saves in the period.
Just as he did in the second period, Moore took a tripping penalty at 12:29 of the second period. Unfortunately, the Bruins weren’t able to kill this one off as Steven Stamkos rifled home his 12th goal of the season just six seconds later. Bergeron won the faceoff after the penalty to Moore and dished it back to Chara, but the Bruins captain erroneously backhanded it up the boards to Lightning forward and reigning Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov, who then fed it to Stamkos for the one-timer and a 1-1 tie.
C'mon… You can't leave Steven Stamkos alone in the slot and NOT expect him to score.🤦🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/NsBvvDG39u
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 13, 2019
For the rest of the period, both teams traded chances but Rask and Vasilevskiy held the fort down and the two teams headed to the third tied at one.
The Bruins came out flying in the third period and just over two minutes into the final frame Jake DeBrusk broke in alone but as he was about to get a shot off, he was pushed from behind by Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta and DeBrusk and Rutta went flying into the net knocking Vasilevskiy down with them. Somehow Rutta wasn’t called for anything on the play and just seconds later Bruins center Sean Kuraly was called for hooking at 2:43.
The lethal Lightning powerplay had no problem striking again as Kucherov set up another goal, this time to Brayden Point who buried it behind Rask for his 11th goal of the season at 4:07 of the period and the first lead of the game for the Lightning. Victor Hedman got the secondary assist.
As the period went on, the Bruins appeared to succumb to the fatigue from playing their second game in a back-to-back and Stamkos took advantage of some sloppy play by the Bruins late in the third, as he picked up a loose puck, dangled through the middle and beat Rask for his second of the game and a 3-1 Lighting lead.
Ironically, that goal woke the Bruins up as just 1:32 later, Moore grabbed some redemption for his penalties earlier and sniped one past Vasilevskiy at 16:45 of the period. Ander Bjork got the lone assist on the goal. Cassidy pulled Rask for the extra skater just a minute later but the Bruins couldn’t complete the comeback and now head south to Sunrise, Florida for another divisional tilt against the Panthers on Saturday.