By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning had nothin’ but glory to play for in today’s regular season finale at TD Garden.
With a win, the Lightning would tie the NHL record for most wins in a single season, set by the 62-win Detroit Red Wings back in 1995-96. And if the Bruins were to leave the ice with a victory, Boston would have 50 wins in back-to-back seasons for the time since the 1972-73 to 1973-74 seasons.
But with four unanswered goals, it was the Bolts that indeed found their glory and place in the history books in this otherwise-meaningless Boston affair, as they ended on the right side of a 6-3 final at TD Garden.
The Bruins got off to a hot start with a two-goal first period, featuring the 20th goal of the season from center David Krejci and a last-minute strike from Danton Heinen for his 11th goal of the season.
A two-goal deficit means absolutely nothing to the Lighting, though, and a second-period takeover showed exactly that.
Eric Cernak whipped a power-play goal through at the 4:41 mark of the middle frame, while Steven Stamkos scored eight seconds into a Black and Gold power-play opportunity to knot the game up at 2-2. For the Bruins, it was their 15th shorthanded goal allowed this season, tying them for the second-most ever surrendered in a Boston season, and their most since they allowed a franchise-worst 18 shorthanded goals during the 2006-07 season.
Tampa built on the momentum of that Stamkos goal with a go-ahead goal from Anthony Cirelli scored just 4:07 later to leave the B’s stunned and give the Bolts a 3-2 edge through 40 minutes of action.
And the Lightning needed just 53 seconds to continue their offensive assault on the B’s, as Nikita Kucherov almost effortlessly split Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy before he tucked a beautiful backhand look through Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins had their chances to get back on the board — a power-play opportunity saw a wicked one-timer from David Pastrnak gloved safely, and the Black and Gold pummeled 16 shots on goal in the third period as a whole — but they simply couldn’t find the equalizing tally in a heated third period at TD Garden.
They looked close at one point, sure, as Matt Grzelcyk scored to pull the Bruins within one, but an ugly goal from Rask on a long-distance wrister from Braydon Coburn just 13 seconds later re-established Tampa Bay’s two goal-edge.
The Bolts iced this one with an empty-net goal from Tyler Johnson at the 18:34 mark to make it a 6-3 final.
Rask had a rough afternoon and stopped just 16-of-21 in the losing effort.
The Bolts’ Edward Pasquale, meanwhile, finished with 30 saves en route to his second win of the season.
Up next: The first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will kick off against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.