Bruins-Lightning Live: Nathan Horton’s Two-Goal Effort Propels B’s to 4-2 Win

David Krejci

Final, Bruins 4-2: The Bruins are able to hold on to win it 4-2, and Nathan Horton just narrowly misses the hat trick.

Horton was skating with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley in the final seconds to try and add the empty-netter for the hat trick, but he hit the post twice, just narrowly missing the three-goal effort. He’ll probably take the two points and the win all the same, though.

Third period, 16:30, Bruins 4-2: Once again, the Bruins’ penalty kill comes up big.

Boston held Tampa Bay shotless on that power play, and Patrice Bergeron made a big play, breaking up a pass through the slot late in the kill to keep it a two-goal lead. That’s now 17 consecutive killed penalties for the Bruins.

Third period, 14:15, Bruins 4-2: This also seems to be a recurring thing, but the Bruins will call on the penalty kill late to try and preserve the lead.

Adam McQuaid gets tangled up deep in the Boston zone, and it leads to a tripping call. He’ll go to the box for two, and once again, it’s on the Boston PK to keep things as they are.

Third period, 11:18, Bruins 4-2: Benoit Pouliot has found some early success down in Florida with the Lightning, and he almost added to an impressive start, but his former teammate was having none of it.

The ex-Bruin was robbed by current Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask on the doorstep, and that save makes sure the game stays at 4-2 in favor of Boston.

Getting back to the Boston offense, it’s been a great effort from the top six. They’ve combined for seven points so far, and while Milan Lucic and David Krejci remain pointless (up to this point), they have certainly played key roles through 50 minutes or so.

Third period, 2:33, Bruins 4-2: We’ve seen it time and time again this season, but the Bruins’ penalty kill is able to withstand the charge from the opponent, and that leads to offense at the other end.

The Bruins add an insurance goal just a few minutes after the Zdeno Chara penalty expires, with the big man getting in on the action.

David Krejci did a great job of keeping the play alive in the offensive zone, and he was able to work the puck back to the point to Dougie Hamilton. The rookie slid it across the point to Chara, who then put a slap-pass/shot toward the net where Nathan Horton was able to deflect it home for his second goal of the game.

Third period, 1:58, Bruins 3-2: The Bruins are able to kill the penalty to open the third. More importantly, they’re able to fend off a rush from the Lightning after the penalty expires. Tuukka Rask was able to make a save and freeze the puck to end the Tampa Bay rush.

Third period, 0:01, Bruins 3-2: The third period is under way, and the Bruins will have to kill off the remaining 1:25 of the Zdeno Chara penalty.

Second period reaction: It’s a lot easier to break things down when you’re dealing with a game like this. The first meeting of the year between these two clubs has not been short on excitement, as there is plenty going on through two periods.

Look for the Bruins to try and slow things down a bit in the third period. You have to think that Claude Julien isn’t a huge fan of the pace this game has been played at, but the Bruins are taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s aggressiveness when the opportunity presents itself.

You can’t blame Martin St. Louis for trying to score on the breakaway, but the transition play following his failed scoring attempt on the break is what keyed the third Boston goal, the one that gave them the lead in the second period. So it is encouraging to see the Bruins adapting to the quicker pace of play we’ve seen in this game.

Milan Lucic may not be in the points column of the stat sheet in this one yet, but he’s still having a terrific game. The big forward was all over the ice in the second period, and he created a handful of scoring opportunities for Boston in the second, and you’d like to see him cash in on one of those at some point in the third.

End second period, 3-2: Nothing happens in the final 25 seconds, so the Bruins will take the lead to the dressing room after 40 minutes. They’ll have to kill the bulk of the Zdeno Chara penalty once the third period begins, though.

Second period, 19:35, Bruins 3-2: Cory Conacher is fearless, apparently.

The rookie goes after Zdeno Chara with a little extra shove after the whistle, and the Boston captain responds as you might expect. However, it’s Chara and Chara only who gets sent to the penalty box. He gets two minutes for roughing.

Second period, 13:58, Bruins 3-2: Things are happening — oh, are things happening.

The Bruins take the lead after a frantic back-and-forth stint that started with good offensive pressure in the Tampa zone. That came to a quick halt when Martin St. Louis blocked a shot and took off the other way. He was able to beat the Boston defense down the ice, but Tuukka Rask made a big save and deflected the rebound to his left. The Bruins then took the puck and moved up the ice in a heartbeat.

Brad Marchand was one of those skaters going back the other way, and he follows the play into the attacking zone, where the puck bounces right to him. The forward unleashes a snap shot over Anders Lindback’s shoulder to give the B’s the lead back.

Second period, 9:00, 2-2: The Bruins’ lead is gone, thanks to Cory Conacher’s first goal in nine games.

The impressive undrafted rookie gets back on the scoring sheet when he beats Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot from the left wing. Conacher’s sixth of the season was a shot that Rask probably should have made the stop on, but nonetheless, the B’s have to go back to work and get things going again.

Second period, 6:22, Bruins 2-1: Much like the first period, the second period has been full of action thus far, with very few stoppages in play.

The Lightning, as expected, came out aggressively to open the period, and they were able to get a few shots on Tuukka Rask, but the Bruins goalie has been aggressive so far, and he’s done a good job of being aggressive and cutting out the angles.

Milan Lucic is having another nice night as well. He’s been all over the ice in the second period, and he’s generated a couple of scoring chances by himself, including a shot on Anders Lindback coming down the right side. He continues to skate hard and create chances, and it’s helping that the rest of that line looks just as aggressive.

Second period, 2:30, Bruins 2-1: The second period is under way.

First period reaction: Well, that was fun.

The first period of this one was much more exciting than the first 20 on Sunday night in Winnipeg. It was also a much better start for the Bruins as well.

Boston came out with a pretty noticeable jump, and the B’s made the most of that in the early going. The Bruins not only set the tone with some strong play early, but they a;sp cashed in on on their opportunities.

The scoring started with Nathan Horton’s refusal to give up on the play. The first line came flying into the attacking zone, and while Victor Hedman originally slowed the play up, Horton kept skating and went around the net, came back out and slammed home the rebound.

There was more to be happy about just a couple of minutes later, when the Bruins did a terrific job of moving the puck through all three zones, starting with a smart play by Tyler Seguin. The forward corralled the puck and moved it back to the d-men behind the Boston goal line. That helped start the break the other way. Once again, it was Brad Marchand’s decision to dump and chase that made all the difference, as his hustle set the table for Patrice Bergeron, who buried the second goal.

Of course, Tampa battled back, and it was Steven Stamkos — who else — who cut the lead in half. He’s just so, so good, and he continues to get better. This time, he does it with a wicked wrist shot over the catching glove of Tuukka Rask, who had a nice first aside from that goal. But when Stamkos beats you with a shot like that, you just add your name to the list of goalies he’s schooled, and you go about your business.

All in all, I liked what I saw from the Bruins in the first period. It helps to be playing a team like Tampa Bay, whose defense is suspect at times, but the Bruins made the most of it. They moved the puck well in all three zones, especially through the neutral zone and into the offensive end. They were good enough in their own end.

It’s going to be important to come out with a strong start to the second as well. The Lightning are going to get their chances, and the Bruins have to be ready to withstand those while also punching back. They’re going to get their chances, and if they can continue to cash in like they did in the first, they should be OK.

End first period, Bruins 2-1: The first period comes to an end, with another good scoring chance late in the period for Tampa Bay.

This time it was Alexander Killorn who turned a loose puck in the slot into a one-timer. He put the puck on net, but Tuukka Rask moved left to right to make a shoulder save to keep it a 2-1 game.

I’ll have some more reaction in a little bit once I catch my breath.

First period, 16:55, Bruins 2-1: This game has been played a pretty dizzying pace, at least in terms of stoppages of play. There haven’t been many, that’s for sure.

The Lightning nearly tied the game up a few minutes ago when Marc-Andre Bergeron hit a post from the point. That rebound was picked up by Richard Panik, who tried to jam it by Tuukka Rask, but the Boston goaltender was able to get back to the post and stuff the rebound attempt.

First period, 8:13, Bruins 2-1: The Lightning own one of the league’s best offenses, so no lead is safe with them, as they have already begun to show.

Teddy Purcell was able to outmuscle Dougie Hamilton in front of the net just long enough to gain control of the puck. Purcell then pushed it back to Steven Stamkos. who skated into the slot and then ripped a wrist shot over the glove of Tuukka Rask.

First period, 5:07, Bruins 2-0: Things are happening faster than one can type and hit “Publish,” but the Bruins just killed off a penalty.

Dougie Hamilton earned a high-sticking penalty, but Boston killed it easily, with a couple of rushes through the neutral zone to boot.

First period, 3:50, Bruins 2-0: This is as good of a start as you could have drawn up if you’re Claude Julien.

The Bruins follow their early goal with another goal, just a couple of minutes later, and this time it’s Patrice Bergeron with the honors.

His goal was set up by Brad Marchand, though, after the forward dumped the puck into the zone to start things. Marchand then chased it in and won a couple of puck battles on the forecheck. He eventually carried the puck behind the net and found Bergeron in the right slot. The reigning Selke winner then beat Lindback short side to give the B’s the 2-0 lead.

First period, 1:11, Bruins 1-0: That didn’t take long at all, as the Bruins’ top line shines in its first shift of the evening.

The B’s carried the puck through the neutral zone with plenty of speed, and it looked like they were about to be stopped when Victor Hedman intercepted a David Krejci pass, but Hedman couldn’t clear.

That allowed Dougie Hamilton to jump into the play crossing the blue line, and he fired a low slap shot on Anders Lindback, who made the first save. He couldn’t handle the rebound, however, and Nathan Horton skated around the net and scored a “fadeaway” shot from the left faceoff circle.

First period, 0:01, 0-0: Finally, the Bruins have returned, and it’s time to go. Thanks for joining us. The game is under way in Tampa.

6:35 p.m.: Late starts stink, don’t they?

As we await the 7:30 p.m. puck drop, let’s take a quick skate around the league, shall we?

We start, of course, in Buffalo. The Sabres put Lindy Ruff out of his misery on Wednesday, ending a head coaching reign that lasted a decade and a half. It’s about time, too. This hasn’t really been working for a while, and while the Sabres probably didn’t “quit” on Ruff, it’s clear that they weren’t getting their best effort. Interim head coach Ron Rolston has already confirmed as much. It will be interesting to see whether or not Buffalo gets a jump out of this. If they don’t, and perhaps even if they do, general manager’s Darcy Regier’s pink slip may not be far behind. Ruff’s message was no longer getting through, but it’s Regier’s team that has failed to live up to expectations.

The Anaheim Ducks are red hot right now, thanks in large part to the play of goaltender Viktor Fasth. Given his history, some see him as the second coming of Henrik Lundqvist. It’s probably too early to say that, and Fasth is already 30, but he’s been very, very good this season — so good, in fact, that the Ducks gave him a two-year contract extension through nine games. In those nine appearances, he’s 8-0-0. The Ducks as a whole are on fire lately, having won five straight, and they find themselves four points behind Chicago in the West with a game in hand.

If there’s any team that’s as hot as Chicago and Anaheim right now, it’s the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are opening eyes as one of the NHL’s biggest surprises this season. They’re riding a five-game winning streak, and they’re 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They’ve done it with balanced scoring, strong defensive play, solid special teams and terrific goaltending. That’s pretty much the recipe for success in the NHL, no? Whether or not they can sustain that will be the biggest question, though. They’ve already played 10 home games this season, so business will start to pick up soon.

4:20 p.m.: Old friend Benoit Pouliot is finding it very easy to fit in with his new team. The former Bruins forward is off to a hot start with the Lightning, registering 5-8-13 totals in 15 games to go along with a plus-7 rating.

He’s also getting hot as of late, with two goals and five assists during his current four-game point streak.

The 26-year-old didn’t register his first point with the Bruins last season until his ninth game after an eight-game scoreless streak that saw him as a minus-3. It’s fairly evident that the Tampa Bay system suits him just a little bit better than the Boston one did.

3 p.m.: It looks like it’s going to be Tuukka Rask back in net for the Bruins for this one, with Anders Lindback between the pipes for the Lightning. Both goalies were first off at their respective morning skates.

Lindback is in his first season with Tampa Bay after spending his first two NHL seasons backing up Pekka Rinne in Nashville. Quite literally the biggest thing that stands out about Lindback is his height. The Swedish goalie is 6-foot-6, which is something you don’t see every day.

Lindback has made 12 appearances this seasons, with a 7-3-1 record to go along with a 3.03 goals against average and a .889 save percentage.

8 a.m. ET: The Bruins are scheduled to play the Lightning on Thursday night, and this time around, there’s no chance this one is being snowed out.

The B’s are in southern Florida to take on the Lightning, starting a two-game swing through the Sunshine State in a rematch of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. This will be the first meeting of the two teams, after the first scheduled meeting, set for Feb. 9, was postponed when a blizzard ripped through Boston and all of New England.

For the Bruins, it’s probably a much-welcomed return to the ice. Boston had the day off Monday, and several members of the club missed practice Tuesday with flu-like symptoms. However, Boston had full attendance for Wednesday’s practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the B’s should be good to go Thursday night.

The Lightning have experienced an up-and-down season, but it’s one that currently finds them near the top of the Southeast Division. Once again, the Tampa Bay offense is a dynamic one, with the Bolts leading the league in goals. Unsurprisingly, a lot of that offensive production comes from Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who remain near or at the top of the goals and assists leaders, respectively.

The Bruins were 2-2 against the Lightning last season, with all four games being fairly one-sided. The Bruins won their two games by a combined score of 9-3, while the two Tampa Bay wins came by a combined score of 11-4.

Puck drop from St. Pete is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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