With a seven-game losing streak hanging over the Tampa Bay Lightning, many thought the Boston Bruins would make it eight on Tuesday night before the Lightning would have a chance to see the win column in 2012, but head coach Guy Boucher took a different tack.
"They're a good team," coach Boucher told the media earlier in the day, "But we have to do the right things."
The Lightning didn't seem to follow that advice, as Bruno Gervais took the first penalty of the game in the opening minutes. The Tampa PK held strong, however, with goaltender Mathieu Garon denying Nathan Horton while his defense worked to block shots with a will.
After successfully holding the Bruins off, it was Vincent Lecavalier who opened the scoring. The Tampa captain found the loose rebound from a Matt Gilroy point shot and tucked it under a sprawling Tim Thomas to put his team ahead, which held up through the remainder of the first period despite each team spending more time on the power play.
Nathan Horton brought Boston back into the game early in the second period on a fantastic individual effort, taking a puck across the ice and grabbing his own rebound from two different attempts before finally tucking a shot under the crossbar.
Matt Gilroy set up another scoring play for the Lightning, making an excellent keep-in play at the blue line before setting up Steve Downie with a long feed through traffic. Tim Thomas made the initial save, but slid out of position far enough to give Tom Pyatt an empty net to deposit the rebound into.
Nathan Horton went five-hole on Garon to tie the game once again, leading to visions of Tampa Bay giving up a hat trick for the third consecutive game, but Ryan Malone snuck the puck through Thomas' legs at the side of the net early in the third period to keep the Lightning alive.
Tampa appeared set to extend the lead when Milan Lucic was called for interference just past the midway point of the final period, but a miscue by Martin St. Louis at the point was the perfect opening for Daniel Paille. The Boston PKer charged down Garon on the breakaway, going wide and forcing the goaltender to commit before firing the puck over his shoulder to tie the game once again.
A hooking call against Steven Stamkos on Tyler Seguin seemed to give Boston a chance to take the lead, but the penalty was offset by Seguin being sent to the box as well for diving, much to the chagrin of Boston head coach Claude Julien.
With the four on four sequence giving neither team an edge, it seemed like the Bruins were willing to take another regulation tie, but Tampa had other ideas. Dominic Moore, Steve Downie, and Ryan Malone broke out of their own zone with just under five minutes left in regulation before Moore unloaded a long shot at the top of the zone that slipped past Thomas to put Tampa Bay on top once again.
Despite chances for Boston in the final minutes, the Lightning capped the game on an empty net goal by Steven Stamkos, finally putting another game into the win column.