BOSTON — Five-on-five play, check. Special teams, not so much.
The Lightning pulled their pieces together and played a strong game at even strength against the Bruins on Thursday, but their 4-3 shootout win showed that they still have work to do on the power play and penalty kill.
“Our five-on-five play was fantastic,” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We were smart with the puck in the neutral zone. When we did get it into their zone, we were hounds on the puck.”
At even strength the Lightning outscored the Bruins 3-0. The problem was that Boston scored on three of their five power plays.
The first problem was that the Lightning gave the Bruins five power plays. The second was giving up the goals.
“That’s probably the best power play in the league,” coach Jon Cooper said of Boston. “Okay, you give them one (goal), maybe you give them two, but you can’t give them three. It doesn’t help when you take five (penalties).”
In two straight games, both wins, the Lightning have taken five penalties in each. Against the Canadiens on Tuesday, they killed off four of the five.
The other difference between the games was that the Lightning scored on its only power play Tuesday. They came up blank on three power plays against Boston. On two advantages in the first period, they totaled two shots. They spent more time chasing down the puck than anything else.
“It should never have gotten to that,” Cooper said. “You get the 3-2 lead (as the Lightning did late in regulation) and the game has to be over there. We let a point slip away to a division rival that we didn’t think we should have.”
The Lightning took that lead on Kevin Shattenkirk’s goal with 4:47 left in the third. Anthony Cirelli took a tripping penalty about a minute later, and that led to David Pastrnak’s second power-play goal of the game. That goal saved the Bruins a point in the standings.
Cirelli is typically a very low-penalty player. He averaged one every seven games last year. This year he has two in the first six. That’s still not a lot — and it’s a small sample size — but it is an increase.
Victor Hedman, Yanni Gourde and Mikhail Sergachev each have more penalty minutes than games played. Again, it’s a small sample size, but it’s not a good trend.
The Lightning started the season wanting to cut down on penalties, and instead, they’ve gone the other way.
This game was not all bad. As Shattenkirk said, the five-on-five play was sharp. This was a case of getting a win when recurring troubles overshadowed the good things.
“It’s a testament to the team to lose the special-team game 3-0 and still win the hockey game,” Cooper said.
Brayden Point said the Lightning’s intensity was high, which was another point they wanted to improve. The Lightning came out hard, driving the play to start the game.
But then the Bruins scored first, on Pastrnak’s first power-play goal midway through the first period, and that shifted momentum. The teams traded goals until Shattenkirk’s third-period score followed Mathieu Joseph’s goal that tied it at 2 midway through the second period.
Steven Stamkos pulled out the win in the shootout. After three rounds without a goal, he made it look simple. Stamkos landed a shot above Tuukka Rask’s blocker.
Andrei Vasilevskiy followed with a save on Jake DeBrusk to secure the win.
“Eight out of 12 points in a six-game road trip, we’ll take that,” Cooper said. “That’s making-the-playoffs hockey. Now we can’t rest when we get home.”
The Lightning begin a three-game homestand Saturday against the Avalanche.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @dianacnearhos.
Tampa Bay won shootout 1-0.
First Period—1, Boston, Pastrnak 7 (Bergeron, Krug), 9:34 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Point 3 (Hedman, Gourde), 19:59. Penalties—Sergachev, TB, (holding), 9:27 Kuraly, BOS, (hooking), 11:04 Bergeron, BOS, (slashing), 16:09.
Second Period—3, Boston, Bergeron 2 (Marchand, Pastrnak), 7:26 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Joseph 2 (Cernak, Killorn), 10:32. Penalties—Verhaeghe, TB, (tripping), 2:15 Gourde, TB, (interference), 6:23 Cernak, TB, (interference), 17:56.
Third Period—5, Boston, Pastrnak 8 (Marchand, Krug), 16:55 (pp). Penalties—Grzelcyk, BOS, (hooking), 8:25 Cirelli, TB, (tripping), 16:08.
Overtime_None. Penalties—Marchand, BOS, (roughing), 5:00.
Shootout—Tampa Bay 1 (Hedman NG, Point NG, Kucherov NG, Stamkos G), Boston 0 (Coyle NG, Pastrnak NG, Marchand NG, DeBrusk NG).
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 16-13-4-3_36. Boston 11-10-11-5_37. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Boston 3 of 5. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 4-1-0 (37 shots-34 saves). Boston, Rask 3-0-1 (36-33). A—17,193 (17,565). Referees—Kevin Pollock, Justin St Pierre. Linesmen—Brian Murphy, Libor Suchanek.