TAMPA — The same day he signed a one-year contract with the Penguins, ex-Lightning forward Brian Boyle scored to help beat his former team.
Taking a pass from Sam Lafferty in the slot, Boyle beat goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy between the legs to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0 just over four minutes into the second period Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
It was the first goal since Aug. 5, 2020 for Boyle, who did not play last season and won a roster spot after being invited to training camp on a professional tryout agreement.
“I know our team was really excited for him and certainly our coaching staff was, as well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He was a big part of this win (Tuesday).”
Boyle, who played with the Lightning from 2014-17, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in the summer of 2017. Though he couldn’t play again until that fall, he went on to score 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 69 games with the Devils and win the Bill Masterton Trophy for his perseverance.
The 13th-year veteran hasn’t played an NHL game since the 2020 playoffs, when he was a member of the Panthers. While unsigned last season, he stayed in shape through personal workouts and was named captain for Team U.S.A. at the IIHF World Championship.
“I’m really thankful and appreciative of the opportunity,” Boyle, 36, said before Tuesday’s game, “and I’m excited to do what I love to do.”
He finished the game with two shots, two hits and two blocked shots in 9 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time.
Sullivan said the “little things” Boyle did against the Lightning like blocking a shot in the third period following a defensive zone faceoff loss and playing on the penalty kill went a long way toward helping Pittsburgh win.
“He certainly showed (he could help our team improve Tuesday),” Sullivan said. “We were thrilled he scored.”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said after the game that he and his teammates were happy to see Boyle back in the league.
“He grinded away, and we’re just, most importantly, glad to see him healthy after what he went through,” Stamkos said. “We don’t like to see him score against us (Tuesday), but from a friendship perspective, it’s great to see him back.
“He’s one of the great teammates that we’ve had and a great player for us here in Tampa, so we wish him all the best.”
• • •
The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.