The Bruins had been 0-15-2 this season when trailing by two or more goals at any point in a game. That is until Saturday night when they rallied for a thrilling 4-3 win over the Lightning in a shootout at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Reilly Smith scored the only goal for either team in the shootout, in the seventh round, as Boston (41-17-5) swept the four-game season series with Tampa Bay (34-24-6). That is particularly relevant as if the playoffs had started today, these teams would have met.
Boston couldn’t have gotten off to a sleepier start as it didn’t get its first shot on goal until almost 14 minutes into the first period. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second on a pair of strange goals. With the Bruins on the power play, Tuukka Rask (17 saves) came out for a poke check but the puck ended up on the stick of Ondrej Palat who put it in 27 seconds into the frame. Less than four minutes later, Mark Barberio made it 2-0 when his shot from the point went through a screen in front of Rask and in the net.
It only took the Bruins a little over four minutes to tie it. Daniel Paille scored on a sweet no-look backhander and Carl Soderberg coolly finished a breakaway by Ben Bishop (29 saves). The goals came fast and furious as the Lightning retook the lead 1:02 after Soderberg’s tally. Valtteri Filppula was wide open in the slot and he picked a corner over Rask. Boston hit the post twice then had a possible goal by Patrice Bergeron negated.
Lucic hit the crossbar as Boston dominated the rest of the third and overtime but there were no more goals for either team.
What they'll be saying: Smith’s goal drought has reached 11 games with tonight’s game so it’ll be interesting to see if his shootout game-winner gets him going again. Bruins head coach Claude Julien has obviously noticed him struggling since for a few shifts, he put him on the fourth line before reinstalling him on the second line.
The lineup was the exact same one from Thursday’s 3-0 win vs. Washington. That meant we had to wait another day for the Bruins debuts of Andrej Meszaros and/or Corey Potter. With the quick turnaround, Sunday's game at Florida starts at 5 p.m., and the fact that this went to overtime, you’d have to think that Meszaros could play vs. the Panthers. Here’s a radical idea: sit Zdeno Chara against hopeless Florida. Boston should be able to beat the Panthers no problem even without their captain. He played a team-high 27:28 tonight and he’ll need some extra rest before the postseason at some point.
Boston will try to sweep Florida Sunday and go to 5-0 vs. the Panthers this season.
Of note, Julien obviously enjoyed the sun this weekend as he was sporting a noticeable sun burn on his face.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate