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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bruins Snap Their 7-game Losing Streak in the Shootout With 3-2 Victory Vs. Lightning

I don't gamble often but I am still fascinated by odds and betting trends revolving around sports. Using nothing more than good old common sense, you had to know that the Bruins (35-22-10) would eventually win another game in a shootout this season. Tonight was that special occasion as Boston snapped its seven-game losing streak in shootouts with a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay (42-20-7) at TD Garden. Boston pulled within two points of Washington (with a game in hand) for the seventh-seed in the Eastern Conference.

The last time that the B's won a shootout was before Thanksgiving (Nov. 21 at Columbus). Meanwhile, a very sneaky stat is Boston's 10-game unbeaten streak vs. Lightning (dating back to March 13, 2012) which makes a potential playoff series against them very appealing as opposed to Montreal who should be avoided at all costs. The Bruins blew two different leads but they managed to kill a power-play in overtime for the Lightning then Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand scored in the shootout while Tuukka Rask (35 saves) stopped both Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin.

The Bruins scored the first goal for the 10th game in a row, their longest such streak since February 3-26, 1990. Tonight's was pretty questionable (not that I'm complaining) as David Pastrnak hit Ryan Spooner's centering pass into the net off of his skate and past Ben Bishop (28 saves) at 7:57 of the first period. It seemed like an obvious goal that would be overturned but somehow it wasn't. Pastrnak's ninth goal of the season was also assisted by Milan Lucic.

A bad turnover by Zdeno Chara in his own end went to the wrong guy-Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay's young star made a simple move then whipped in his 37th goal of the season (3rd most in the NHL) at 15:29 of the first period. Bishop basically returned that goodwill gesture by allowing Bergeron's harmless shot from the point to go in at 2:20 of the third period. Dennis Seidenberg had the assist on Bergeron's 19th goal of the season which was neither screened nor deflected by a teammate or a Lightning player.

Something called Vladislav Namestnkov tied it at 8:04, trying saying that 10 times fast. He deposited a rebound for his fifth goal of the season, assisted by equally anonymous Mark Barberio and Andrej Sustr. Matching penalties on Kelly (holding) and Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn (embellishment on the Harvard man) made it 3-on-3 for 1:20 in overtime before Matt Bartkowski was called for holding as well. The 3-on-3 was a taste of what the AHL does normally in overtime and what could eventually come to the NHL in the near future.

This was a huge two points for the B's since they have a very difficult back-to-back on the road this weekend: at Pittsburgh (39-18-10) on Saturday (1, NESN) followed by a primetime game at Washington (36-22-10) on Sunday night (7:30, NBCSN). If the Capitals lose in regulation to the Stars tomorrow night, then Boston could tie Washington with a win there. I'm not trying to get too ahead of ourselves but this is a major development after the Bruins looked to be locked into either the eighth-seed or missing the playoffs entirely. Now, they are playing their best hockey of the season and the Capitals and Red Wings (5 points ahead) are each within striking distance.

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