Tampa Bay scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to defeat the Boston Bruins 6-3 on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Boston had the lead three times in the second period, but their advantage lasted a combined 2:43, as the Lightning quickly responded to each Bruins’ tally.
The B’s scored twice on special teams, with David Pastrnak notching his 32nd goal of the season on the power play early in the second while Zdeno Chara struck for a shorthanded goal near the eight-minute mark of the period.
Riley Nash assisted on Chara’s goal, and found the net with less than seven minutes left in the second to give the B’s a 3-2 lead, but Lightning goalie Peter Budaj tightened up in front of his net and did not allow another puck past him after Nash’s fifth goal of the year.
Nikita Kucherov had a hat trick, including two power play goals and an empty netter, for Tampa Bay, who moved to just three points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic Division. Tampa also has a game in hand.
Jonathan Drouin notched the game-winning goal with 4:12 elapsed in the third period, which snapped a 13-game scoreless streak for the 22-year-old winger. Kucherov followed with his league-leading 17th power play goal of the year, and then capped the scoring with his empty net goal with 1:57 left in the third.
Tuukka Rask was downright awful in net for the B’s, allowing five goals on 28 shots faced while being totally incapable of protecting a lead. Rask has lost four starts in a row.
Boston has also lost four straight games, including three this week against the teams that are closest to them in the Eastern Conference standings. They entered the week firmly in third place in the Atlantic, but lost to second-place Ottawa on Monday, then got jumped in the division by Toronto after a loss on Tuesday, and now gave up even more ground after Thursday’s defeat.
The B’s are just two points clear of the New York Islanders for the final Wild Card spot in the East, and the two teams will face off with each other on Saturday night in another pivotal contest.
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