The Bruins continued their trend of winning one-goal games (9-1) and dominating in the third period (outscored opponents 20-8) this season as they skated to a 3-2 win over the Lightning Saturday at TD Garden. Boston (14-2-2) won its sixth straight game and improved to 6-1-1 at home thanks to Brad Marchand’s team-leading 11th goal of the season with 2:16 left in regulation.
It was the fourth game-winner of the season for Marchand as he is tied for the NHL lead. Defenseman Brendan Mikkelson was the scapegoat for Tampa Bay because he got called for a double-minor after high sticking Milan Lucic. Boston made him pay as Patrice Bergeron found Marchand via a 2-on-1 for the deciding goal. Lightning backup goaltender Mathieu Garon (2-7-0) made 24 saves in the loss.
Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (3-1-0) had 20 saves and was able to bounce back after allowing two early power play goals to the Lightning (9-11-1). It was his first win since Feb. 10 at Buffalo and first game since Feb. 15 against the Sabres. Boston’s penalty kill closed with six straight kills after allowing the two early goals. The special teams were huge for the Bruins since they got a very rare pair of goals from their woeful power play.
The NHL’s leading scorer, Steven Stamkos, made his presence felt with a rocket of a one-timer for a goal, then Tampa Bay made it 2-0 8:38 into the contest as former Harvard star Alex Killorn beat Khudobin with a backhander. Two guys that have really struggled to find the net for the B’s responded in the second period as Tyler Seguin cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal on a one-timer similar to Stamkos’ then Rich Peverley also scored on a one-timer.
They’ve struggled in matinee games the last few seasons but so far the early returns for Boston (3-0-0) have been good in the afternoon. One of the best rivalries in the NHL will be renewed Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network) as Montreal (13-4-3) visits TD Garden. It will be a battle for not only first place in the Northeast Division but also the Eastern Conference.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate