The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Boston Bruins Monday night knowing they have finally conquered one of their biggest nemeses this season — the third period.
On Saturday afternoon, the Lightning spotted the Edmonton Oilers a 2-0 lead in the first period but rallied back, eventually winning 6-4 to break a three-game home losing streak.
In the win, coach Jon Cooper’s team beat the dreaded third period, which had been an enormous hurdle to overcome, filled with blown leads that led to regulation and overtime defeats.
The Lightning scored four times in the final frame, including the last three tallies — the equalizer from Steven Stamkos on the power play, the game-winner via Luke Glendening and empty-net insurance from Mikhail Sergachev.
“The season’s still fairly new, but we’ve not been a great third-period team this year,” Cooper said. “So for us to come out and be behind and pull it out and push the way we did, it’s great for our morale.”
Tampa Bay won for the first time in which it trailed entering the third period, improving to 1-5-2 in those instances.
“I think maybe earlier in the year, we might find a way to only get that to overtime or actually lose the game. I just liked the way the guys dug in,” said Cooper, whose group managed to keep high-scoring Edmonton stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the scoresheet.
Nikita Kucherov filled his scoresheet with two goals and an assist. It was the 71st time the right wing has produced three points in a match, placing him third in franchise history behind Stamkos (97) and Martin St. Louis (73).
Just as they did last season when they roared through the regular season en route to winning the Presidents’ Trophy, the Bruins are running roughshod from city to city in the NHL — winning 13 times in 16 contests. Boston’s lone regulation loss was 5-4 in Detroit against the improved Red Wings.
A two-game trip to the Sunshine State will provide ample opportunity for the first-place Bruins to see where they stack up against other Atlantic Division powers.
The Lightning and Bruins have met twice in the Stanley Cup conference semifinals since the 2017-18 season. Tampa Bay won the series both times.
The Florida Panthers, Boston’s opponent Wednesday, shocked the Bruins as a No. 8 seed in seven games in last season’s opening playoff round.
Saturday’s 5-2 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens had Boston coach Jim Montgomery in a good mood.
“I thought we played the right way for 60 minutes — the way we want to play,” said Montgomery, whose squad lost 3-2 in overtime in Montreal seven days earlier.
Trent Frederic scored a pair of goals and captain Brad Marchand recorded his 500th career assist, while goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 20 saves. Swayman hasn’t lost in regulation yet (7-0-1).
Following morning skate, Montgomery and the team commented about the situation around teammate Milan Lucic, who was arrested Saturday morning after an alleged domestic violence incident.
“It’s tough to see your teammates and your friends going through stuff like this and their family,” Marchand said. “Yeah, definitely worried about Britt and the kids and Luc himself, but they have all the support in the world.
“Anything they need we are going to be here for them.”
–Field Level Media