Bruins-Lightning Live: Tuukka Rask’s Terrific Showing Gets B’s Back on Track in 2-0 Win

BruinsFinal, Bruins 2-0: The Bruins didn’t get anything on the power play, but they do hold on to win the game behind a dazzling performance from Tuukka Rask.

Third period, 16:43, Bruins 2-0: It took almost 57 minutes, but the Bruins have their first power play of the game.

Victor Hedman gets the hooking penalty sending the B’s on the power play.

Third period, 15:27, Bruins 2-0: The Bruins have had a lot of good things to take out of this one, the play of Tuukka Rask being chief among them.

However, the Bruins’ line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin continues to struggle. Marchand has had a particularly tough period, having turned the puck over a couple of times and whiffing on a shot. He just skated to the bench, put his stick in front of him and stomped on it until it broke.

Third period, 10:20, Bruins 2-0: Tuukka Rask just got his toughest test of the third period with a couple of scoring chances from Vincent Lecavlier and Alex Killorn. The Bruins goalie was able to turn away both chances before freezing the puck.

The Lightning have brought it here in the third, at least in terms of putting shots on net outshooting, Boston 8-4, for whatever that may be worth.

Third period, 6:28, Bruins 2-0: So far here in the third period, there hasn’t been much of anything going on.

Now would be a good time to talk about Tuukka Rask. The Boston goaltender has been sensational thus far in one of his best games of the season. His big saves in the second period may have literally saved the game for the Bruins, and if they hold on, he’ll get a lot of credit for helping the B’s get back on the winning track.

Third period, 0:10, Bruins 2-0: The third period is underway.

End second period, Bruins 2-0: The second period, the Bruins’ best in quite some time, comes to an end with the B’s leading 2-0.

Second period, 17:22, Bruins 2-0; This has been Milan Lucic’s best game in a while, and that’s all because of his physical presence.

He just picked it up another level with a spirited fight with Keith Aulie late here in the second period.

Second period, 15:18, Bruins 2-0: Tuukka Rask has been fantastic so far.

The Bruins goalie just came up with a few big-time saves. First, he robbed Steven Stamkos with a gorgeous glove save. That save eventually led to the Daniel Paille goal.

Shortly thereafter, Rask made a two-save combo on Alex Killorn to keep Tampa Bay scoreless.

Second period, 13:31, Bruins 2-0: There were many who thought Daniel Paille should win the 7th Player Award, and yours truly was one of them. He just added to our unsuccessful case.

The fourth-line winger just scored his 10th goal of the season on a beautiful pass from Gregory Campbell to give Boston the 2-0 lead.

Second period, 11:42, Bruins 1-0: Benoit Pouliot has not been able to solve Tuukka Rask so far. Maybe he should start lifting the puck.

After Rask stoned Pouliot in the first period with a right pad kick save, he just did the same with the left leg as Pouliot streaked down the center of the ice for a scoring opportunity.

Second period, 8:21, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins were once again able to kill off the penalty, and they’re now 3-for-3 on the kill so far.

They got a good shift in the moments that followed from the third line of Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Jaromir Jagr. It’s pretty impressive to see how Soderberg has adjusted and continues to adjust on the fly. He’s a big, strong guy, and that alone has to be making the adjustment period easier.

Second period, 5:30, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins will have to kill off yet another penalty.

This time it’s Patrice Bergeron who’s guilty. The center was called for delay of game after putting the puck over the glass. That gives Tampa Bay its third power play of the night.

Second period, 4:22, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins, after looking asleep for a good portion of this game, have awaken and taken the lead.

Dennis Seidenberg just got the B’s on the board with a blast from the right point that beat Anders Lindback to the goalie’s blocker side.

Brad Marchand did a nice job of carrying the puck into the zone and both he and Patrice Bergeron went to the front of the net to create some traffic.

Second period, 0:01, 0-0: The second period is underway here at the Garden.

First period reaction: It was a bit of a slow start to the period for the Bruins, who were only able to manage four shots on goal in the first .

However, there were a few positives to take out of the frame. First, you have to give Andrew Ference props for stepping up and fighting Benoit Pouliot midway through the period. With the B’s looking a little lethargic, Ference certainly gave the club a boost by dropping the gloves with his former teammate.

Milan Lucic and David Krejci look to have gotten their respective wake-up calls. Both are flying around the ice in all three zones, and they’re throwing their weight around as well. They both have a team-high three hits through one. The fourth line is also providing a similar type of energy.

Tuukka Rask looks sharp in the early going. His best save of the period came on a right leg pad save on Pouliot’s one-timer from the slot on the first Tampa Bay power play.

Speaking of power plays, the B’s will have to kill off the final 1:17 of Adam McQuaid’s roughing penalty to open the second.

End first period, 0-0: The first 44 seconds of the power play are successfully killed by the Bruins, thanks to blocked shots from Zdeno Chara, who got his stick on a Steven Stamkos slap shot, and Patrice Bergeron, who was got in front of a Sami Salo shot from the point.

First period, 19:16, 0-0: Adam McQuaid was just sent to the penalty box for roughing, which means the Bruins will have to  be on the penalty kill for the rest of the period and into the second.

First period, 14:00, 0-0: Andrew Ference just injected some life into the building.

The Bruins defenseman just dropped the gloves with former teammate Beniot Pouliot in a pretty good fight behind the Bruins’ goal.

First period, 11:33, 0-0: You have to give the Lightning credit. For a team that is out of contention and played a night ago, they’ve brought a good game so far.

They’ve spent the majority of the first period in the Boston end, and they’re outshooting the Bruins 7-2 midway through the first. Tuukka Rask has been solid thus far for the Bruins.

First period, 7:38, 0-0: The Bruins were able to kill off the game’s first penalty, thanks in large part to Tuukka Rask.

The Lightning were able to gain possession in the Boston end with some good puck movement that eventually led to Martin St. Louis finding Benoit Pouliot in the slot. Rask turned the one-timer aside with a right pad save to keep the game scoreless.

First period, 5:21, 0-0: The Lightning have been given the first power play of the evening.

Chris Kelly just got called for high-sticking, a minor penalty.

First period, 19:00, 0-0: The game is underway here at the TD Garden.

7:37 p.m.: Dougie Hamilton was just announced as the 7th Player Award winner.

7:14 p.m.: Oh, and here are your line combinations for the Bruins, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Milan Lucic — David Krejci — Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Tyler Seguin
Carl Soderberg — Chris Kelly — Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille — Gregory Campbell — Shawn Thornton

7:09 p.m.: It looks like Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski will get the night off. The young duo of defensemen didn’t take line rushes in pregame warmups.

Here are the defensive pairs the B’s featured.

Zdeno Chara — Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference — Johnny Boychuk
Adam McQuaid — Wade Redden

6:59 p.m.: The two teams have taken the ice for pregame warmups.

As expected, Tuukka Rask led the Bruins out, and Anders Lindback led the Lightning out, so they’ll be your goaltenders for this one.

6:45 p.m.: Welcome to TD Garden where the Bruins and Lightning are about an hour away from doing battle.

It’s a special night at the Garden as the 7th Player Award will be handed out. There will be a special pregame ceremony in advance of puck drop for that.

3:45 p.m.: Much has been made about the schedule this year and for good reason. Every NHL team has gone through a treacherous point in the schedule at some point this season, and the Bruins’ rough point is right now. It’s obviously come at a poor time, given the fact that the team is looking to gain momentum heading into the playoffs.

However, the consolidated schedule in the stretch run hasn’t been exclusive to the Bruins. I was taking a look at some of the teams that are peaking on their way toward the playoffs just to see where other teams are at. One of the league’s hottest teams, the Washington Capitals, has had a similarly difficult schedule.

Since March 1, the Caps have played 27 games, while the Bruins have played 28. During that stretch, Washington is 19-7-1, while Boston is only 14-11-3. It’s probably worth noting that 12 of those Capitals game came against Southeast Division opponents, which aided their win total, no doubt. Similarly, the Los Angeles Kings have played 29 games since March 1 and have gone 16-10-3 over that stretch. That’s four more points than the Bruins in that stretch (albeit in one more game). If the Bruins had four more points right now, they’d be able to clinch the division tonight against Tampa, which would allow them to think about nothing but rest in the final two games over the weekend.

What does it all mean? Probably not much, maybe nothing at all. But I think in a small way it does represent the fact that the schedule hasn’t been particularly cruel to the Bruins, and it’s not something that has crippled teams across the league, either. Is it playing a role? Sure. Is it the main reason the Bruins are scuffling toward the finish line? That’s probably still up for debate, but maybe not.

2:35 p.m.: By the way, this game is another NESNplus game. If you want to find out where you can find your listings, you can do so by clicking here.

2:15 p.m.: Nathan Horton skated at morning skate, but Claude Julien says the Bruins winger will not play once again. He hasn’t played since leaving Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury following a fight with Jarome Iginla in the Bruins’ loss to the Penguins over the weekend.

Julien said Horton remains day-to-day, and the head coach didn’t offer much information other than that, other than to say Horton was “progressing well.”

2 p.m.: Carl Soderberg  is in the process of finding his way in the NHL, and he’s jumping around the Bruins’ third line in the process.

Soderberg, who was moved to center midway through his second game and centered a line with Chris Kelly and Jaromir Jagr in this third game, will likely be back on the wing Thursday night. Kelly is expected to be pivoting that line against Tampa Bay, according to B’s head coach Claude Julien.

“[Soderberg] can be good there, but so can Kelly,” Julien said after morning skate. “Tonight, I plan on using Kelly at center and putting Soderberg back on the wing. It’s okay for him to feel comfortable there, but at the same time, I have to make a decision. Do I take a guy that’s already a pretty good centerman, a good two-way centerman and put him in a weaker spot because I want to please this guy? Or do I do it the other way around? I’m just trying to get a feel here and see how he does on the wing. Again, by playoff time, I’m going to have to make a decision of who’s playing where and go from there. That’s why we have those three games to look at that.”

Soderberg has a pair of assists in his three games with the Bruins.

1:15 p.m.: Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate, which means he’ll likely be the starting goaltender for the Bruins against Tamp Bay.

8 a.m. ET: Perhaps the best news for the Bruins heading into Thursday’s game with the Tampa Bay Lightning is that there is no snow in the forecast. Thursday’s game was originally scheduled for Feb. 9, but a snowstorm of historic proportions pounded Boston and forced a postponement.

Now it’s part of what’s been a jam-packed schedule for the Bruins all the way up into the final week of the season. Thursday’s game will mark the second of the week for the Bruins, a week in which they will play four games in six days, including back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.

At the very least, it might give the Bruins a chance to straighten things out. The B’s are playing their worst hockey at the worst time of the season right now, and it isn’t inspiring much faith among Bruins fans. Fatigue is no doubt playing a role, but Boston coach Claude Julien finally cut that down as an excuse following an embarrassing 5-2 loss Tuesday in Philadelphia.

“Let’s stay away from excuses because it’s not gonna work,” he told reporters after the game. “Excuses is a lot of BS right now. We need to quit hiding behind those excuses because it’s a load of crap.”

The Bruins will presumably get a chance to work on some things Thursday with Tampa Bay in town. The Bolts have little to play for right now, but that was also the case with the Flyers, and that didn’t turn out so well. Either way, come this time next week, the playoffs will be upon us. It’s now or never for the Bruins, and they can try to dig out of this hole starting again Thursday.

Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden.

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