BOSTON — The Boston Bruins answered the bell in a big way Thursday night.
With first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference on the line, the Bruins picked up their third win over the Tampa Bay Lightning this season in the form of a 4-2 victory at TD Garden.
While both clubs possess a number of highly skilled players, there wasn’t much beauty or finesse demonstrated on the ice. Instead, the tilt was highly physical from wire to wire, with a number of skirmishes and fights breaking out within the 60 minutes. Hell, even goaltender Tuukka Rask got a few punches in.
Boston clearly takes great pride in being able to up the physicality when needed, and their play of late has head coach Bruce Cassidy excited about where his team is at with the playoffs right around the corner.
“I feel we’re very close simply because of the road trip we just had,” Cassidy said. “Winnipeg was a hard game, two good teams going at it. Not a lot of history, but it was a good hockey game. Dallas was hard, St. Louis, they played us hard. I think there’s a lot of nights where our guys say, ‘Bring it on.’ We’re comfortable in that game. We’re OK with it, and that’s what makes us good.”
Each and every scrap got a rise out of the TD Garden crowd, and the energy of the arena mimicked that of a postseason contest. Cassidy understands the expectations that Boston fans have, and he believes the B’s style of play is complementary to their interests.
“Well, we’re in the entertainment business, first of all,” Cassidy said. “We want to win, and we like to win with what Boston fans appreciate: hard work, blue collar and a certain level of pace and skill. They’ve become accustomed to that here. I thought we lost a little bit of that in the second, but overall I thought we made some plays and played hard. That’s the way we want to be. That’s our identity.”
If Boston continues to play well-rounded games like Thursday night, it’s tough not to imagine them playing into June.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Lightning:
— David Backes returned to game action after suffering a laceration on his right leg March 17 that required 18 stitches. The veteran forward logged 15:18 of ice time, recorded four hits and got three shots on net.
— The Lightning had held first place in the Atlantic Division since Oct. 19.
— Rask wasn’t the only unlikely fighter for the Bruins against the Lightning. Davis Pastrnak (one goal, one assist) also dropped the gloves as part of his Gordie Howe hat trick.
— Tim Schaller scored Boston’s first goal of the game, his second in the last four contests.
— Patrice Bergeron (one goal, two assists) paced the Bruins with three total points. He’s registered multi-point games in two of his three games since returning from injury Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports
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