BOSTON — This game had it all. Line brawls, coaches thrown out, shorthanded goals, power-play goals, overstuffed penalty boxes, scrums and wrestling matches. The Bruins and Lightning delivered on entertainment Saturday night.
The Lightning avenged Tuesday’s loss to the Bruins, beating them 5-3 at TD Garden to finish the season series having won three of four against the league’s top team. But the win won’t be the lasting memory of this game. Even the two shorthanded goals scored by the Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev on a single penalty becomes a footnote after physicality took over the game.
“I think we’re starting to get a little bad blood here now,” said Pat Maroon, who played a seven-game Stanley Cup Final series against Boston last year. “I think we’re starting to stir the pot a little bit, which is fun going into meaningful games down the stretch.”
That this was a physical matchup surprises no one. Tuesday’s game in Tampa was also. But this one reached a different level.
The first attempted fight was 8:39 in, when the linesmen separated Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow and Bruins forward Chris Wagner. They squared off for real about two minutes later.
The peak of the physicality came with a line brawl in the final minutes of the second period. There was only one official fight, between Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and Maroon. But everyone paired off. Sticks, mouth guards and gloves flew everywhere, along with bodies.
When the metaphorical dust settled, 10-minute misconducts had been handed out to Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak and Bruins center Sean Kuraly, Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards had left the bench and a game misconduct was assessed to the Tampa Bay staff.
In the end, 26 penalties were called in the game, including four 10-minute misconducts (Lightning forward Blake Coleman and Bruins forward Nick Ritchie got matching calls at the end of the second period).
It was enough that you could almost forget about the rest of the game. After the Lightning opened the game with the two shorthanded goals for a 2-0 lead, Cedric Paquette added a third goal 6:50 into the second period before the Bruins got on the board.
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy made it 3-1 at 14:50 of the second period, and center Sean Kuraly made it 3-2 with 1:23 left. On the latter goal, the puck got behind goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, center Brayden Point reached his stick across to throw the puck out, and the referee waved no goal. At the next break in play (when the line brawl broke out), the officials reviewed the goal and saw the puck had clearly crossed the goal line before Point got his stick on it.
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Alex Killorn widened the Lightning’s lead with a power-play goal 1:08 into the third period. The Bruins responded when wing David Pastrnak scored a power-play goal at 6:37. Nikita Kucherov sealed the win with an empty-netter with 62 seconds remaining.
The Bruins went into the game with a nine-point lead over the Lightning atop the Atlantic Division. Even after this win and its four-point swing (the Bruins don’t get the potential two points, the Lightning add two), the Lightning would need to nearly win out in their final 14 games to catch them.
At this point, barring potential first-round upsets (a sore subject around these parts), the Lightning and Bruins are on pace to meet in the second round of the playoffs.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at email@example.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.