TAMPA — Surviving a third-period enemy push with sharp sticks and churning wheels, the Bruins held on for a 2-1 win over the Lightning Tuesday night in a meeting of the NHL-best Bruins and their Atlantic Division rival, No. 3 in the league in points.
Brad Marchand’s 28th goal of the season and Jake DeBrusk’s 19th gave the Black and Gold what it needed at a playoff-ready Amalie Arena.
The Bruins spent too much time in their own zone in the third, the Lightning racking up chances and trimming a lopsided shot deficit. The Bruins finished ahead in shots, 35-21, but managed four shots on goal in the third after putting on 14 and 17 in the first two.
Tuukka Rask made 20 saves, allowing a late-second-period goal by Mitchell Stevens and nothing more. No save was better than his patient denial of an Anthony Cirelli breakaway in the opening minutes of the third, the Bruins (42-13-12) up by a goal. A stretch pass snuck through Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara, but Rask’s stick and pads were quicker than Cirelli’s five-hole snapper.
The Lightning (41-20-5) left cursing their missed chances. Cedric Paquette flared a one-timer high over the net, and Erik Cernak clanked one off the iron before the 10-minute mark of the third. Tyler Johnson couldn’t finish a loose puck from the slot.
■ The Bruins, outplaying the Lightning through two periods, had not put the Bolts away. It was lopsided in the shot counter (30-14, visitors) but close in the goal column (2-1).
■ Marchand deflected in a long-distance feed from Torey Krug, the pair playing a two-man game on the power play. Krug dropped to Marchand and wheeled around the net to the other side of the zone. Marchand’s long shot-pass deflected off a Tampa body in the slot and hit Krug, who put it on the skate of a crease-crashing Marchand.
■ Marchand, who didn’t feel well enough to attend the morning skate, passed Ken Hodge for seventh-most goals in Bruins history (290). Only four players who were primarily wings have more. Next up: Cam Neely (344).
■ The Bruins challenged Yanni Gourde’s goal 5:24 into the second period, a seeing-eye shot through a screen from the top of the circle. Officials ruled that Johnson was a hair offside, leaving the game a 1-0 Bruins lead.
■ DeBrusk, without a point in his previous 10 games, made it 2-0 on a spectacular individual effort. Turning on the afterburners to beat Zach Bogosian to a loose puck in the neutral zone, he skated through a trip (and delayed penalty) from the diving Bogosian and chipped it ahead, skated onto it, used some stick sorcery to freeze Andrei Vasilevskiy, and beat the netminder blocker-high to make it 2-0 at 10:06 of the second.
■ The Bruins were outshooting the Lightning, 26-10, at that point. Star winger Nikita Kucherov was showing his frustration, slamming his stick on the boards.
■ Boston was controlling play, but Stephens made it 2-1 when he jammed home a loose puck with 2:32 left in the second. It was a tough break for Matt Grzelcyk, who took a shot in the midsection and played through it, in apparent pain, on a long shift. Couldn’t do much to stop Stephens’s putback. Jeremy Lauzon was also beaten in the battle.
■ Speaking of battles, with four seconds left in the second, Joakim Nordstrom violently took exception to the Lightning’s touching of Rask. Nordstrom wound up landing a few good shots on Gourde when the two paired off. It was Nordstrom’s third NHL fight, second as a Bruin.
■ New Bruin files: Nick Ritchie lay on the ice for a few agonizing moments after blocking a Kevin Shattenkirk shot, but he did not miss a shift. Ritchie blocked another shot on his next shift. Ondrej Kase was less noticeable through 40 minutes.
■ The Bruins went 0 for 3 on the power play through two periods, and averted disaster on a first-period penalty kill that saw Johnson whiff on a bouncing puck at the doorstep.
■ McAvoy logged a heavy-duty 25:03 and landed three of his game-high eight shot attempts on net. He also dished out two hits and blocked a pair of shots. The Bruins’ back liners were in lanes, with Chara and Grzelcyk each stuffing four shots.
■ Ritchie landed five hits in 15:20, with two shots on net.