Boston takes top spot in Atlantic from Bolts

by Gary Shelton on March 30, 2018 · 6 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Miller scored a goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Miller scored a goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 2 a.m.

All of the sudden, things are going the wrong direction for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning lost its third consecutive game Thursday night, falling 4-2 to the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have won all three meetings between the teams this season.

Tampa Bay also fell out of the lead in the Atlantic Division, which it had led since Oct. 19, and the Eastern Conference.

“It was frustrating," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "There’s really not much going on in the first period and we give up two on just tough situations for us.

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Hedman scored his 15th goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Hedman scored his 15th goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

We kind of missed our assignments there. But, in saying that, we pushed hard for two periods. I thought we kind of dictated the play after being down 2-0.

"I just really liked the response of the guys. Unfortunately for us, we don’t really give them anything for two periods and then, again, a breakdown on the 4-on-4, guys are switching all over the place and it’s kind of a trickle-down effect and it ends up in our net. That’s why it’s a tough one to swallow because we know exactly what we’re supposed to do there. So just a couple assignment breakdowns, but all in all, it clearly had a playoff feel to it that game. It’s just a tough one to swallow for the guys, especially the way they played in the last two periods.”

The Bolts fell behind when the Bruins scored two goals in 32 seconds in the first period.

The Bolts came within 3-2 on goals from J.T. Miller and Victor Hedman, but the Bruins finished the game with an empty-netter.

“This was a tight one," Cooper said. "This could have gone either way. It’s a 2-1 game. (Boston goaltender Tuukka) Rask makes a save on one he doesn’t see. The puck’s in our guys hands. I think we catch a tough break on the goaltender interference. The ref saw it one way, we obviously see it another. One of these games where I thought we were earning our breaks and had a couple go against us. But it was two pretty good hockey teams going at it, and for tonight, they come out on top.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy is 2-3 in his last five starts. He stopped 26 of 29 shots. At one point, he was penalized for crossing the red line as he squared off against Boston and goalie Rask.

“I just didn’t think there was interference," Cooper said. "And I understand Cirelli was in the crease, but I didn’t think the goaltender was being interfered. But, that’s my opinion. They’ve got the guys in Toronto that see these every single night, and they make the decision. Got to live with it.”

The Lightning took heart in playing better in the final two periods.

“I thought we played great in the second and third," said Steven Stamkos. "I thought we were the better team, whether it was them sitting back on a two goal lead or us pressuring. I thought we controlled the play. It’s a tough, they got two goals in the last minute or 1:20, something like that.

"It’s tough against a team like that to go down two and expect to win when they defend so well. I thought it was a really good hockey game, two good teams. Obviously, we’d like to be on the other end of it, but a much better effort than the last time we played them. Maybe something we can build some confidence from, especially the last couple periods.”

The Bolts were pleased with how they played in the final two periods.

“That’s the way we want to play," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "That’s the way we know we can play. I think we played really good hockey. We tied the game up and I thought our challenge was going to be good but it wasn’t. I think we deserved points out of this game, but really encouraged with the way we played and got to keep building on that and keep going forward.

“We’ve got to play consistent. We’re playing a really good team. It’s tight checking. It’s a lot of emotion. It’s two great goaltenders. Two even matched teams. We’ll be focused on the next game, and if we get to see them in the playoffs, we’ve got to make sure that we play like we did the last two periods. They’re a good team and it’s a lot of fun to play these kind of games.”

Tampa Bay travels to New York to face the New York Rangers tonight. The puck drops at 7 p.m.







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