Tampa, FL -- The Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3, Saturday night in the St. Pete Times Forum to finish 4-0-1 on a five game road swing. Glen Murray scored two goals for Boston and Alex Auld (25 saves) was outstanding in the B's net.
"A win tonight was certainly important," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "We had great goaltending...he kind of bailed us out when we had big turnovers."
The streaking Boston Bruins are very at home on the road and began the night 17-11-3 away from the TD Banknorth Garden.
"I think we do a lot of little things well," said veteran forward P.J. Axelsson. "We scored big power play goals. We killed penalties.
"I think that was the key."
Now 32-23-6 overall, the B's also started the day seven points behind their archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens, who stood in fifth with 75 points.
So, Boston looked to both solidify their playoff standing and make up ground between themselves and the teams at the top of the Eastern Conference when they ended their five game road swing against the Lightning.
A shorthanded goal for Tampa, off an outstanding play by Vincent Lecavalier who passed to Mathieu Darche, put the lightning up, 1-0, at 4:33 of the first and seemed to spark their play for the rest of the period.
But Auld and the Bruins relaxed after the early Lighting score and Boston recovered to match Tampa Bay shot-for-shot.
"Getting the win last game in relief was huge," said Auld. "And to get the call today was big.
"I think it shows the team concept we have here."
Milan Lucic finally tied the score on Boston's ninth shot when he beat Johan Holmqvist from the top of the left faceoff circle with a laser at 14:29.
Auld stood tall for the rest of the session and led the B's to the locker room tied, 1-1.
Mark Stuart tilted the momentum in the B's favor when he scored from the point at 5:08 of the second period.
And Auld kept that momentum for Boston when he stopped Martin St. Louis on the breakaway at 9:26.
Tampa Bay tied the game at 11:12 when Michel Ouellet punched one through the Boston goaltender.
However, Auld bounced back quickly when, with 7:14 remaining on the clock, he again robbed St. Louis with a beautiful glove save.
Holmqvist turned that trick as well, when he dove across his net to steal a goal from Marco Sturm with two minutes remaining in the period.
But he couldn't stop veteran winger Glen Murray. Murray recovered a rebound in front of Holmqvist and scored during a 5-on-3 power play situation to put Boston back on top, 3-2, at 18:25.
The Bruins went to the second break trailing in shots 22 to 25, but up 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
Early in the third period, Marc Savard stole a puck in the Tampa Bay zone, passed to Murray who put the puck on Holmqvist. But the Lightnings Paul Ranger knocked the puck into his own net at the 17 second mark of the third.
Boston held on tight.
But a late power play goal from Tampa's Vaclav Prospal at 17:44 made the score an interesting 4-3.
However, the Bruins P.J. Axelsson dropped the hammer when he shot a pea by Holmqvist at 18:55 to put the game away for Boston.
"That was a great play by [Metropolit]," said Axelsson of the pass that led to the goal. "It was a good road trip."
Coach Julien wants the good road trip to translate to victories in Boston.
"It's been a bit of a struggle lately [at home]," said Julien. "Hopefully this road trip will give us a little bit of life so we can go back home and give our fans a better showing than we have lately."
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 BOS