Let’s face it, no one outside of the organization expected the Bruins to win Thursday night as they played their third regular season game this year against the Lightning, who sit in first place in the league. Given what happened in the playoffs last season between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning coupled with their losses in the previous two regular season games this year, the Bruins have fallen short when it comes to playing against Tampa. Add to that the fact that Tampa was riding a ten-game winning streak, and, well, it would have been no disgrace if Boston lost.
However, the Bruins’ players didn’t get that memo.
While they couldn’t claim that ten-game winning streak like Tampa, they did share a 14-game point streak which was equal to the Bolts. Additionally, there has been something almost magical about a few of the players in black and gold, especially Jake DeBrusk who continues his hot streak, notching seven goals in his last eight games, coupled with five assists for 12 points in those eight games. That included a goal against Tampa on Thursday night.
“Compared to what it was before, I’m just getting some nice bounces right now, it went off the defenseman’s stick into the net, also some great passes so I’m just trying to continue to execute and try to put that puck in the net as much as possible,” DeBrusk said.
Meanwhile, the Bruins’ fourth line has been the starting line in recent games, speaking to the confidence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has in Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, and Chris Wagner. They have given a lot of energy to the team as a whole, setting the tempo from the first puck drop, and have continued to play strong giving the Bruins opportunities each night.
Acciari took a puck to the face on Tuesday night, losing two teeth and cutting both his upper and lower lips. At practice Thursday morning, though he was sporting some stitches and has a good gap in his smile, he had no doubts that he would be playing Thursday night. He currently wears the “bubble” as his full-face shield has been called to protect his face while he heals. Kuraly wore it when he was hurt, and it seemed to turn his game around. It appeared that as Kuraly wore the “bubble” his game began to improve. So perhaps it shouldn’t have been too surprising that Acciari notched a goal and got an assist Thursday night while he was wearing the “bubble.”
“[Kuraly’s] like ‘it’s a lucky helmet – they’re lucky bubbles so good things will come,’ and he was right,” Acciari shared.
“It was a huge goal by [Acciari], that bubble is working for everybody who has it. I might need one of those,” added DeBrusk. Though he currently has no issues in the scoring department.
Every line for the Bruins went onto the ice and showed defensive determination in rendering Tampa’s offense to little in the way of shots on Tuukka Rask. In the first period, the Lightning had but four shots, while the second period saw them limited to just five more. It wasn’t until the third period that they hit double digits getting 12 shots which also saw them get their one goal of the game.
At the other end, the Bruins were treating Tampa’s goaltender Louis Domingue like a duck in a shooting gallery, throwing 17 pucks at him in the first and another 15 in the second. They only managed nine on him in the third, though by then it really was just a matter of time.
“[Domingue] played really well tonight and we just couldn’t get discouraged and we had to just keep it coming. The pucks will eventually go in, like you saw in the third, we had that stretch of the quick three goals and it was good for our team tonight,” Acciari said.
It was not quite halfway into the second when DeBrusk put the Bruins on the scoreboard first, but that’s where things stalled until 11:47 of the third. That’s when Acciari put the B’s up 2-0 and less than two minutes later Boston had two more goals by Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for a commanding 4-0 lead. For Domingue that fourth goal may have gotten the better of his emotions. He took his frustrations out on his stick as he whacked it on the goal posts until it broke.
Considering how hard he had played to keep Tampa in the game until that flurry of scoring, it was certainly understandable. And perhaps it motivated his teammates some, as they responded with their lone goal by Anthony Cirelli 37 seconds later.
Yes, the Tampa Bay Lightning still sit in first place in the league, but for the Bruins this game spoke volumes as to their confidence at this point. Of course, they’ve believed strongly within their locker room of what they can do, and now it’s coming together and showing on the ice.
“We’re a tight group and, you know, we all believe in each other. And that road trip definitely helped our confidence and we’re just kind of rolling from there. I think everyone’s bought in and we’ve added two great players and I think we’re just going to continue from there,” Acciari said.