TAMPA — The last time the Bruins saw Steven Stamkos, he was being wheeled from the TD Garden ice with a broken shin, an injury that cost the Lightning star 45 games and a spot on Canada’s Olympic roster.
But he was back on the ice Saturday night against the Bruins, his second since returning Thursday for a team that has been reeling of late. The Lightning entered with three straight losses and just three wins in their previous 11 games.
Stamkos was given the green light by doctors Wednesday morning, then saw team captain Martin St. Louis traded that afternoon. Stamkos was named the new captain.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Stamkos before the game. “You go from getting cleared to play and being excited about that to losing your captain at the time in a trade, being named the new captain. It was a pretty crazy 48 hours. Now that I think that’s all done with and over with, you can focus on the task at hand.”
Stamkos played 21:46 in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 shootout loss and was minus-2.
Canada won gold in Sochi without Stamkos. Bruins coach Claude Julien, an assistant for Team Canada, said, “As much as we had success in Sochi, we really missed him.”
“That was tough,” Stamkos said. “I didn’t watch every game, but I definitely watched the gold-medal game. Knowing that you could have had a chance to have been there and won a gold medal for your country at the Olympics, it was tough to watch. It was kind of bittersweet.”
But Stamkos has moved on. With less than six weeks left in the regular season, he wanted to return to the lineup as quickly as possible and help the Lightning get on track before the postseason.
Stamkos was injured Nov. 11 while backchecking on Dougie Hamilton to prevent a scoring chance. Stamkos fell to the ice and slammed into the net, breaking the bone. It was a clean play by Hamilton, but still unnerving for the young defenseman.
“I’m happy to see him back,” Hamilton said. “It was kind of tough to see him not be able to play in the Olympics. I know, as a Canadian, I think it’s every kid’s dream to play in the Olympics and win a gold medal, so it was tough to not see him be there and not win the gold.’’
Boychuk gets save
If not for Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins probably wouldn’t have taken the 2 points against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Not only did he score the tying goal in the third period on a shot from the point — his third goal of the season — but Boychuk preserved the tie with 30 seconds left in regulation by taking out Tyler Johnson on the rush.
Boychuk poked away the puck, then threw the Tampa Bay center down by the boards. He said that he knew that he would be able to catch up to the play the whole way.
“[Boychuk] played a solid game for us tonight,” Julien said. “That’s a big goal that he scored for us. We need that from those guys. We’ve got Zdeno [Chara] and we’ve got Johnny that are experienced D’s with more than a year under their belt. So we need those kind of efforts from those guys.’’
Newbies sit out
After having their best defensive effort since the Olympic break against the Capitals Thursday, the Bruins stuck with the same lineup Saturday. That meant newly acquired defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter were healthy scratches for the second straight game . . . The seven rounds in the shootout were the most for the Bruins since they went eight rounds at Florida on Feb. 13, 2010.