If the Bruins were going to win the biggest game of the season down in Tampa last night, they would require a significantly better defensive effort than they delivered in Monday’s wild 5-4 OT win over the Panthers in Sunrise. With the possibility of finishing the day in first place on their minds, the Bs certainly answered the call with one of their best performances of the season and the result was a thrilling 1-0 overtime win over the Lightning that brought the Black and Gold into a tie with their hosts with 83 points apiece (Tampa does have a game in hand and holds ROW tiebreaker).
Despite not having seen a live NHL puck in over two weeks, Jonas Gustavsson was outstanding for the Bs as he stopped all 42 Tampa Bay shots for his seventh career shutout. Prior to Tampa Bay’s ugly loss in Philly Monday night, the Lightning had won nine in a row but their potent offense couldn’t solve Gus. Thankfully, the Bruins played Monday as well so we didn’t have to listen to mopey-ass fans try to discount last night’s win. Additionally, Tampa started their #1 goalie Ben Bishop and it was the Bruins who started their back-up so local Debbie Downers couldn’t beat that drum either.
Brad Marchand, who else?, provided the game’s only goal when he knocked Patrice Bergeron’s perfect centering feed past Bishop just 10 seconds into overtime to send everybody home. It was his career-high 34th of the season and he’ll have a legit crack at 40.
The game had a playoff feel to it and, in fact, was reminiscent of Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final between these two, which the Bruins also won 1-0. Since acquiring John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak at the deadline, the Bs have gone 4-1 and garnered 9 out of a possible 10 points (Liles may be hearing from the DOPS for his forearm shiver to Nikita Kucherov’s melon).
Though the Bruins still need to clean things up a bit (93 shots on goal allowed in last two games), they’ve shown over the last four games that they can play with anybody in the league when they bring their ‘A’ game. And they’ll certainly need it when they visit the three Cali teams next week. But first, Carolina visits tomorrow night and Islanders drop in for a Saturday matinee.
If you missed Episode 4 of Spittin’ Chiclets, you can listen right here.