TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tuukka Rask and the stubborn Boston Bruins stymied the Tampa Bay Lightning — and got even closer in the standings.
Rask stopped 23 shots to hand Tampa Bay its first shutout of the season and lifted the Bruins over the Lightning 3-0 on Saturday night.
It was Rask’s third shutout of the season and 41st of his career. It was also the first time the Lightning failed to score a goal since a 4-0 loss at Boston on April 4, 2017 — also against Rask.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said, “and I thought we were better at it than they were tonight.”
David Pastrnak, David Backes and Riley Nash all scored for Boston, which moved within two points of the Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with one game in hand. Torey Krug assisted on all three of the Bruins’ goals.
But the Bruins hope the win didn’t come at a high cost.
The Bruins played the final two periods without Backes, who left following a scary incident late in the first period. As Backes tumbled to the ice and fell into the crease area, the back of Yanni Gourde’s skate appeared to make contact just below Backes’ right knee. Backes immediately grabbed his leg. As he was making his way to the Boston bench, blood appeared to seep through his pants as he was rushed back to the locker room.
The Bruins reported that Backes was resting after suffering a laceration on his knee that required approximately 18 stitches to close. Cassidy reported there was no structural damage.
“I think the concern is probably when you have those deep cuts is infection, so that’s usually a couple of days to see how it heals up,” Cassidy said. “I don’t want to say he dodged a bullet because it’s an unfortunate accident, but it looks like he’ll be OK.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots for the Lightning, whose last shutout at home came on March 16, 2017, by Toronto’s Frederik Andersen. Tampa Bay has lost consecutive games for the first time since going 9-0-1 in the previous 10 games.
“Now is the time when you really have to look yourself in the mirror and really push yourself and hammer down on the details,” Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. “We have to step up, we have to work. That was a good test. We got outplayed and now we have to raise the bar.”
Pastrnak opened the scoring with his 28th goal of the season, getting a step ahead of Mikhail Sergachev coming down the slot to take a pass from Krug and slip a backhander past Vasilevskiy 3:07 in to the game.
Backes scored his 12th off a rebound in front for the first of two Boston power-play goals on the night.
Nash increased the lead to 3-0 in the second period with his 14th of the season.
“We’ve been talking about trying to get back to our identity and playing solid defense and finding our offense through that,” Rask said. “Today we shut it down, came back hard and played solid, solid defense and scored three goals.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay recalled G Louis Domingue from Syracuse of the American Hockey League before the game and he dressed as the backup. … Boston improved to 32-0-3 this season when holding a two-goal lead at any point in the game. … The Lightning have allowed five power-play goals in the past three games and at least one power-play goal in 11 of the past 12. … Boston D Zdeno Chara missed his second consecutive game with an unspecified upper-body injury.
Lightning: Host Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Bruins: Host Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.