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Lightning dominates Bruins in 4-0 win

Tampa Bay makes a statement against its rival.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a save on David Pastrnak  with some help from  defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a save on David Pastrnak with some help from defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Apr. 4, 2018
Updated Apr. 4, 2018

TAMPA — It might have lost to the Bruins only a few days ago, but the Lightning liked nearly everything about what happened that night in Boston.

Okay, not the final score. And certainly not the two goals it allowed in the final minute of the first period.

"Just how we played and how we felt," coach Jon Cooper said. "Play a little better than that and we can win."

That's what happened Tuesday, only the Lightning played perhaps a little better than a little better.

It turned in a complete game, something it has not accomplished in some time. The result was a 4-0 victory that pulled the Lightning even with the Bruins atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference in points with 110 each.

"I think it was big," Brayden Point said. "(The Bruins) kind of had our number all year. It's been tough games against them all year and sure was good to come out on top against them."

The Bruins have three regular-season games remaining, and the Lightning only has two, so give the edge for home ice throughout the conference playoffs to Boston. But the Lightning still has a chance, thanks to a defense that shut down the Bruins' high-scoring line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, an offense that sent 36 shots on net and kept the pressure on Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who recorded his eighth shutout of these season.

"That was huge for us," Ryan Callahan said. "It's been a while since we played a full 60 (minutes) like that. What I liked most was the way we defended. We didn't give up any odd-man rushes, defended really well in our end even when they had pressure in our end. We didn't run around. We stayed home. That was a big win for us."

The Lightning (53-23-4) was 0-3  this season against the Bruins (49-18-12). That is one reason why the Lightning gave up the lead in the chase for home ice.

There are other reasons, like playing strong for 40 minutes then letting the game slip away, which is what happened Sunday in the loss to the Predators.

Or, a leaky defense in front of Vasilevskiy.

Or, tentativeness on offense where "shoot first" was replaced by "pass first."

The Lightning, though, on Tuesdy looked very much like the team that stormed out to the big lead in the standings during the early part of the season.

It controlled the game from the start, outshooting the Bruins 16-6 during a first period where the only stat that was even was the score.

Then Point scored five minutes into the second, when he took a cross ice pass from Nikita Kucherov and snapped a wrist shot from the right side past Rask.

That was the first time this season the Lightning held a lead against the Bruins. It was also the first time in the past six games the Lightning scored the first goal.

Goals by Victor Hedman and Chris Kunitz followed, and the Lightning led 3-0 with 20 minutes to play.

J.T. Miller's goal 2:34 into the third, his 10th since joining the team at the trade deadline, finished off a 2-on-1 break with Tyler Johnson and basically finished off the Bruins. Finished them off for one night, anyway.

"The first two periods was some of the best hockey we played all year," Hedman said. "In the third period we did a good job of shutting them down. It was a big shutout for us. We wanted to play a good defensive game, and Vasy was huge for us, so overall it was a great team effort. Very happy with the way we played."

Contact Roger Mooney at Follow @rogermooney50.