Bruins Strike Lightning, Control Playoff Destiny
Boston Bruins defenseman Wade Redden, right, is checked by Tampa Bay Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston — Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots for his second shutout in as many starts and Boston beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 last night, keeping the Bruins in control of the tight race for the Northeast Division title.
The Bruins have 61 points, two more than Montreal, which played later at Winnipeg. The Canadiens finish their season at Toronto tomorrow. Boston has two more games and can clinch the division title with wins over Washington tomorrow and in the regular-season finale Sunday against Ottawa.
Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille scored in the second period and Rask took care of the rest as the Bruins won despite being outshot 30-24.
Rask’s previous start was a 3-0 shutout against Florida on Sunday, when he faced just 28 shots and most came from well outside with a clear view. He was tested by the Lightning, who entered the game with the NHL’s top two scorers in Martin St. Louis (58 points) and Steven Stamkos (56 points).
St. Louis had a chance to pull Tampa Bay within 2-1 with 4:33 left in the third with a sharp wrist shot that Rask stretched to grab with his glove. Rask caught a break just a couple minutes later when Tom Pyatt nearly beat him with a shot that clanged off the post and bounced back in front through Rask’s pads.
The puck could have easily rebounded right back into the net and given the Lightning a chance to tie in the closing minutes, but Rask’s luck held and he picked up his fifth shutout of the season.
Anders Lindback had 22 saves for the Lightning.
Coming off a 5-2 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Bruins were sluggish early and outshot by the Lightning 9-4 in the first period.
Boston missed on two shots from right in front of the crease just before the first break, then Seidenberg broke the scoreless tie 4:22 into the second period. Brad Marchand carried the puck up the ice, skated across the Lightning zone and fed Seidenberg for a slap shot from the point that Lindback couldn’t see through the traffic.
Paille put Boston up 2-0 on a one-timer off a circle-to-circle pass from Gregory Campbell that left Lindback helplessly lunging to get from one post to the other as Paille scored his 10th goal of the season.
Boston had just turned over the puck, but Shawn Thornton kept it in the zone and got it back to Campbell.
Long since eliminated from playoff contention, the Lightning appeared determined not to leave Boston without getting in a few shots before the end of the season. Former Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot took on Boston defenseman Andrew Ference in an extended bout with six minutes remaining in the first period.
Next up on the fight card were Boston’s Milan Lucic and Keith Aulie, who matched punches until Lucic landed three straight shots that sent Aulie slumping to the ice late in the second.
Notes: The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 9, but postponed because of the blizzard that shut down the Northeast and left more than 2 feet of snow in some areas. ... Tampa Bay’s only penalties in the first two periods were the fighting majors to Pouliot and Aulie. ... The Bruins swept the three games against the Lightning in the lockout-shortened season.