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Just two weeks ago, the Bruins had probably their ugliest loss of the season: a 4-3 defeat against the lowly Maple Leafs that came on the heels of back-to-back losses to the Detroit Red Wings. It was clear then that they were probably not good enough to make a deep run in the playoffs. Then, after a few big moves, including one that landed the long-coveted PMD (puck-moving defenseman), the Bruins won six consecutive games on the same road trip for the first time since 1972, the last year they won a Stanley Cup.
So, here we stand two weeks later, as the Bruins and Lightning came into Thursday night’s game tied for second in the Eastern Conference. A win would give the Bruins the season series edge as a tiebreaker, and vault them into sole possession of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Mission accomplished.
Milan Lucic scored the game-winning goal with less than four minutes to go to give the Bruins a dramatic 2-1 win at the TD Garden. It was their seventh straight win overall, and with Philadelphia’s loss Thursday night, the B’s are just three points back of first place in the East.
With the score tied 1-1 late in the third, Nathan Horton was denied by Lightning goalie Mike Smith, who started his first game since December. Horton and a couple defenders hit the ice in a pileup in front of the goal. The puck then bounced out and off of a referee’s skates.
Lucic got the loose puck and lifted it over the pile from a slightly difficult angle to bang home his 28th goal of the year.
“I was just trying to look for the loose puck because there was enough guys in front of the net,” said Lucic. “I knew there was no real reason for me to get in there but just kind of wait around, see if something popped out and it did.”
Credit Horton and David Krejci with the assists.
The well-rested Tim Thomas (he played just two games on the road trip) delivered again for the Bruins, gathering 27 saves. The only goal he allowed was early in the second period to Eric Brewer, who tallied his ninth of the year.
Fortunately, just minutes later, Steve Kampfer took the feed from Chris Kelly and buried a long-distance rocket to tie the game.
After that goal, Thomas was rock-solid as the game started to get a bit chippy. While Horton was on his way to the penalty box, Lucic received a game misconduct for fighting with Eric Brewer, giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 for nearly two minutes. The B’s killed the penalty after only allowing a couple shots.
“I think that was the turning point right there,” Julien said. “Our guys did an outstanding job on that 5-on-3, where we didn’t give them much. We were patient. We didn’t start running around.”