The Tampa Bay Lightning (12-5-0) have the best record in the Eastern Conference, which is hard to believe if you’ve seen their three games vs. Boston (11-5-1) so far this season: three losses and they’ve been outscored 11-1. Monday on Veterans Day at TD Garden, the Bruins blanked the Lightning for the second straight game, 3-0. Tampa Bay gets one more shot at Boston this season before the playoffs: March 8 at home.
Of immediate significance to the Lightning: Steven Stamkos left in the second period on a stretcher after crashing into the post on his own net. It would be impossible to replace him for a significant amount of time since he is tied for first in the NHL in goals (14) and points (23). Gregory Campbell knows a thing or two about serious injuries after he famously broke his leg vs. Pittsburgh last spring in the playoffs. “It’s part of the game but not a positive thing. He’s one of the faces of the game, I wish him the best. He’s such an important player and this being an Olympic year, it could be a significant loss in many ways.”
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Tuukka Rask (28 saves) notched his second shutout of the season (both vs. Tampa Bay) and 18th of his career. Matt Bartkowski was in the lineup for Adam McQuaid after being a healthy scratch for nine of the last 10 games but he recognizes Rask’s importance on the Bruins.
“In my mind, he’s the best goaltender in the NHL," McQuaid said. "It’s coming to be what we expect of him.”
Tampa Bay is known as the explosive offensive team but Boston hit them with a pair of goals 20 second apart in the second period to take control. After he crashed the net, Patrice Bergeron scored his third goal in the last two games then Daniel Paille finished a backhander on a breakaway the following shift. Jarome Iginla’s empty-netter put it away, seconds after David Krejci’s goal was called off since Iginla supposedly interfered with Anders Lindback (23 saves). The Bruins go for their fourth win in a row on Thursday (7, NESN) vs. Columbus (6-10-0), the end of a five-game homestand.
What they'll be saying: The Bruins always go above and beyond when it comes to supporting the armed forces but they really did a great job Monday. Soldiers in uniform were all over the Garden, taking in the game and they were rightfully acknowledged countless times on the Jumbotron. The B’s put on a good show for them too, plus a couple players even bought a bunch of tickets for military members and their families. Boston’s penalty kill unit is officially on a roll, as the B's have killed their last 22 penalties (six games in a row). Campbell pointed out how much pride the team takes in that aspect of their game so it was only a matter of time before they straightened things out in that regard. Spreading out the scoring is another key element to the Bruins when they’re playing well and today’s game featured goals from three of their four forward lines. The fourth line had only contributed two goals before today so Daniel Paille’s tally was big for his confidence and his linemates. Stamkos does not have good luck in Boston, remember he broke his nose (but still returned) in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Bruins. All the Bruins that spoke and Julien hoped that one of the NHL’s top stars doesn’t miss too much action.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate