Bolts rally to beat Bruins in historic season

by Gary Shelton on March 26, 2019 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Cirelli celebrates his winning goal with 53 seconds left./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Are you tired of the record book lately?

Are you weary of the assault on excellence by the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Are you fatigued from reading, night after night, about the team or different players measuring up to the greats of the league?

Well, no. Of course you aren't.

Once again, the Bolts made their 59th win of the season one to remember. They came from two goals down to beat the Boston Bruins,

Victor Hedman sprawls after scoring./CHUCK MULLER

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Stamkos broke the 40-goal and 90-point barriers./CHUCK MULLER

the ninth time in 20 games they have come from behind in the final period.

The Bolts are now 59-14-2. Only two teams have ever won more in a season, the '95-96 Red Wings (62) and the '76-77 Montreal Canadiens. Their 122 points are the sixth most all-time.

Anthony Cirelli scored the winning goal with 53 seconds to play. Also scoring for Tampa Bay was Steven Stamkos (twice), Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos now has 41 goals and Kucherov has 38.

Vasilevskiy stopped only 13 shots but won his 37th./CHUCK MULLER

“I’m really happy for (Cirelli)," said Kucherov. "He’s been really good for us all season long. You see him progress in his game, and it’s fun to watch.”

Cirelli has 18 goals on the season.

“Sometimes they go in for you and sometimes they don’t," Cirelli said. "I think for me, just trying to be good defensively first and foremost. The offense is there and if I can help the team out then I can. I think just trying to be good on the penalty kill, be good defensively, and just create some energy.”

Said coach Jon Cooper: "We're deep. Tony's responsibility has been growing as the year has gone on. He's starting to play in every situation now and he is getting put into big situations. He's just a really responsible player. Usually, the offense starts coming the more they’re in the league and they kind of figure out where guys are and what they can do. That was a great play, not only by him but Joe (Mathieu Joseph) and everybody involved."

Cedric Paquette takes on Steven Kampfer./CHUCK MULLER

For Stamkos, it was his first 40-goal season since 2014-15 and his first 90-point season since 2011-12.

“First couple shots that go in the net, you’re going to feel good about yourself the rest of the game," Stamkos said. "It was nice to see those go in. It’s been a good stretch as of late, and everyone’s just trying to get their game ready for the playoffs. We’re playing some really good opponents down the stretch here, and it’s going to be good for us.”

The Bruins had just 17 shots on the night, but they scored four times.

Kucherov had his 38th goal in the comeback./CHUCK MULLER

“I think we just go out there and we play," Cirelli said. "We’re never going to give up. We know we have a good team in here and we just have to play the right way, just never give up and keep going.  I think we have the skill to put up goals, and you see that there in the third period.”

Said Stamkos: “We were feeling better about the game than the score indicated. We knew Vasy was going to shut the door if we were just able to get that next one. We put some pressure on them, and we just moved our feet. We created some penalties, got some power plays and didn’t score which was disappointing, but created some momentum.”

Cooper thought the turning point was when Hedman scored.

Killorn surrounded by Bruins./CHUCK MULLER

"When you're looking up at the clock with 15 minutes left and you're down one, it's easier to look at that then two," Cooper said. "We felt like we had a little bit of some tough puck luck there in the second, but we felt we're tilting the ice probably the last half of the second period. It was just unfortunate some of the goals that were going in. When Heddy scored early in the third, that kind of gave us a good vibe.”

The Lightning close out the home portion of their regular season schedule Saturday when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 a.m.

Johnson battles for position./CHUCK MULLER



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