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Tampa Bay Lightning defeats Boston Bruins 5-3

BOSTON — At the end of the Lightning's 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Thursday night at TD Garden, Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet probably didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

The win was huge.

It was the franchise's 500th and lifted the Lightning (30-32-12) to 11th in the East, six points behind eighth-place Boston for the final playoff spot. And Steven Stamkos' two goals tied him for the league lead with 45.

But the cost could be prohibitive.

Right wing Steve Downie, a 20-goal scorer, left in the third period limping, favoring his right knee after a knee-to-knee hit from Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman.

Defenseman Kurtis Foster (upper body) left after the second period and defenseman David Hale (lower body) in the first.

"They all might not play," Tocchet said of Saturday's game in Buffalo. "We're going to have to get on the phone and figure out where to get some fresh bodies. Don't ask me where."

AHL Norfolk, most likely, though that would hurt the Admirals, who are in a heated playoff chase of their own.

The bottom line is that in a game in which the Lightning, with a second straight win, resuscitated its playoff hopes to a degree, the hockey gods threw up a roadblock.

"We've seen a lot here, and you try to be resilient," Tocchet said. "A lot of things were stacked against us, but we somehow gutted it out."

They gutted it out despite playing with four remaining defensemen: Mike Lundin, who played a career-high 26:33; Matt Walker, who played a season-high 22:27; Andrej Meszaros and Victor Hedman.

With Meszaros in the penalty box in the third period, Tocchet said he yelled for wing Marty St. Louis to play defense.

"Definitely a challenge," Lundin said of the situation.

Especially in the third, when Boston outshot tiring, scrambling Tampa Bay 19-3 en route to a 50-18 advantage.

"Sometimes it felt like they had six guys in front of the net whacking at the puck," Lundin said.

"They did an unbelievable job," goaltender Antero Niittymaki said of the defense. "Boston has big guys; they battle hard. That's how they play, so it's even tougher."

Fifty shots are the most the Lightning ever has allowed. Good thing Niittymaki made 47 saves, the most by a Tampa Bay goalie. Also chipping in: Paul Szczechura with two goals, and St. Louis, who scored his 27th.

"To battle through this game shows a lot of character," Stamkos said. "We have an uphill climb, but no one in this dressing room is quitting right now."

Lightning 2 2 1 5
Bruins 1 1 1 3

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 44 (Downie, Lundin), :49. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 27 (Lecavalier, Hedman), 18:05. 3, Boston, Chara 6 (Krejci, Wideman), 19:33. PenaltiesDownie, TB (elbowing), 18:52; Stuart, Bos (roughing), 18:52.

Second Period4, Tampa Bay, Szczechura 4, 6:50. 5, Boston, Boychuk 5 (Krejci, Ryder), 10:42. 6, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 45 (Foster), 19:34 (pp). PenaltiesMeszaros, TB (tripping), 11:43; Wheeler, Bos (interference), 17:54.

Third Period7, Tampa Bay, Szczechura 5 (St. Louis, Tanguay), 3:00 (pp). 8, Boston, Recchi 16 (Bergeron, Seidenberg), 11:50. PenaltiesWideman, Bos (kneeing), 1:22; Stuart, Bos (tripping), 3:28; Meszaros, TB (interference), 7:20; Tampa Bay bench, served by Fedoruk (too many men), 17:53. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 8-7-3—18. Boston 19-12-19—50. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 2 of 3; Boston 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Niittymaki 20-16-5 (50 shots-47 saves). Boston, Rask 18-11-4 (18-13). A17,565 (17,565).

Lightning 5

Bruins 3

League goal leaders

Steven Stamkos Lightning 45

Sidney Crosby Penguins 45

Alex Ovechkin Capitals 45

Patrick Marleau Sharks 41*

Marian Gaborik Rangers 39

* late Thursday game not included

Tampa Bay Lightning defeats Boston Bruins 5-3 03/25/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 12:21am]
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