The two oldest players on the roster combined with two of the youngest to lift the Bruins to a crucial 4-3 victory despite some shaky moments in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Mark Recchi, 42 years young, scored the game-winner on the power play with just 19.7 seconds remaining in regulation. The Bruins were positioned to pull out that late victory because of 31 saves, including 12 in the third period, by 36-year-old netminder Tim Thomas, and a pair of goals by rookies Steven Kampfer and Brad Marchand.
For Kampfer, 22, his shot from the left circle off a pass from Marc Savard at 3:27 of the second period was his first career goal in his ninth game. Savard has just a few more points, as the assist was his 700th career point in his 11th season. Kampfer finished a plus-2 with a shot, a hit and a blocked shot in 14:22.
Marchand, 22, also provided a key goal, scoring on a backhander in front at 3:00 of the third to briefly stake Boston to a 3-2 lead. It was Marchand's first game back after missing the previous three contests recovering from the effects of a hit from Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban on Dec. 16.
But Marchand showed no signs of rust as he stepped right back into his spot on the Bruins' "energy line" alongside Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Marchand had two shots, three hits and a takeaway while finishing a plus-1 in 11:47.
He also was back at his agitating best, creating a parade to the Lightning penalty box. Marchand spent four minutes in the Bruins' box himself, but never put his club down a man. He set an early tone with a shoving match with Sean Bergenheim just 20 seconds into play. Both players received two minutes for roughing, but Bergenheim was tagged with an extra minor for cross-checking, and the Bruins cashed in just eight seconds later with a Michael Ryder power-play goal.
Marchand later negated a Tampa Bay power play by drawing a holding call on Teddy Purcell just 16 seconds after Blake Wheeler went off for high-sticking midway through the second period. With Tampa Bay coming into the game with the most power-play goals in the league and an NHL-best 29.5 percent success rate on the man-advantage at home, denying the Lightning power-play chances was vital for the Bruins.
Boston wasn't always successful at that, as Tampa Bay had five power-play opportunities. But the Lightning totaled just 4:47 on the man-advantage and scored only once, with Marchand logging 1:45 of shorthanded ice time to help that cause.
Marchand was also involved in the final scrum that led to Recchi's game-winner. With 1:50 left and the game tied at 3-3, Steven Stamkos was called for boarding after a questionable hit on Campbell. That drew several Bruins into a scrum, with Marchand and Bergenheim again getting tangled up. Their wresting match cost both players two minutes for roughing, but didn't affect the man-advantage as the Bruins went on the power play for Stamkos' boarding call.
Recchi, who had showed his veteran savvy with a shot off the end boards to set up Ryder's goal 28 seconds into play, showed he still can finish chances himself as well as he took a pass from Patrice Bergeron in the high slot and ripped a wrister just inside the left post to give the Bruins their fourth and final one-goal lead of the night with 19.7 seconds left.
The Bruins weren't able to make the goals by Ryder, Kampfer or Marchand hold up, but Recchi's late strike was the final dagger to take down the Lightning, as a combination of some youthful energy and a dash of veteran wisdom was just enough to help Boston solidify its hold on first place in the Northeast Division with its third straight victory.