Hedman lifts Lightning over Bruins for 11th straight at home
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Victor Hedman scored the go-ahead goal with 6:31 remaining and the Tampa Bay Lightning tied a team record with their 11th straight home victory by defeating the NHL-best Boston Bruins 3-2 on Thursday night.
Brayden Point’s pass for Steven Stamkos on a 2-on-1 misfired, but the puck came right to Hedman. His shot from the left circle beat Linus Ullmark after the Boston goalie was run over by teammate Brandon Carlo, breaking a 2-all tie.
“I saw Linus went flying,” Hedman said, “I didn’t know if it was our guy or their guy (who ran over Ullmark), so I took a chance to shoot for the net.”
The Lightning matched the franchise mark for consecutive home wins, set in 2019-20. They ended Boston’s six-game winning streak and the Bruins’ run of seven road victories in a row.
“First and foremost, we had to avoid beating ourselves – manage the puck well,” Hedman said. “We had to play to our structure, and I think we did that for the better part of the game. We played pretty good hockey for most of the night, and we got rewarded with a win.”
Brandon Hagel and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay, which defeated the Bruins for the first time in three tries this season. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves.
“It was two good teams that played hard,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team defeated Minnesota 4-2 on Tuesday. “This whole week has been a test for us against playoff-caliber teams — heavy, skilled teams — and so far we’ve been doing very well on the test.”
Brad Marchand and Pavel Zacha had the goals for the Bruins, who fell to 38-6-4. Ullmark stopped 32 shots.
“It was back and forth all night,” Boston defenseman Connor Clifton said. “I thought we started a little slow, but I thought we were great in the second and third. Linus played great and kept us in it. Their goalie did the same thing.”
The Lightning needed just 30 seconds to capitalize on their first power play and take a 1-0 lead. Hagel was left alone in front, took a pass from Kucherov and beat Ullmark over the blocker at 10:42.
Vasilevskiy preserved the lead late in the period by robbing Zacha and David Pastrnak less than a minute apart.
The goalies continued to excel in the second. Vasilevskiy denied Hampus Lindholm, who was alone between the hashmarks, five minutes into the period. Eight minutes later, Ullmark stopped Point on a breakaway and Stamkos on a wide-open 15-footer from the slot.
“I thought he did great,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said of Ullmark, who fell to 25-3-1. “I thought he made a lot of saves look easy; he was in such good position. Vasilevskiy played great, too. He made a lot of high-quality saves. It was a playoff-type game.”
However, Marchand got the Bruins even at 1 when he beat Vasilevskiy with a low wrist shot from the left circle at 16:58.
The Lightning took a 2-1 lead 58 seconds into the third period when Stamkos won a faceoff to Kucherov, who whipped a shot past Ullmark. But the Bruins tied it at 2:24 on a goal by Zacha, who finished off a three-way passing play.
The Lightning are 19-4-1 at Amalie Arena, and 19-0-0 when they score first. The Bruins dropped to 9-2-0 when tied entering the third period.
The win was the 251st of Vasilevskiy’s career, but he’s 7-9-2 against Boston. Ullmark fell to 3-6-0 against Tampa Bay, but he's 51-13-3 overall since joining the Bruins last season.
Bruins: Continue a five-game trip at Florida on Saturday night.
Lightning: Complete a three-game homestand against Los Angeles on Saturday night.
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John Kreiser, The Associated Press