Recchi strike saves Bruins
TAMPA — With 1:21 remaining in regulation, the score tied 3-3, and the Bruins on a power play, Tim Thomas had a plea for Patrice Bergeron.
“Immediately I asked Bergy, ‘Hey, would you go score one for me?’ ’’ said the Bruins goalie. “We score and everybody forgets about that dumb move I made.’’
A game-winning assist would have to do.
On the subsequent rush, Bergeron got the puck to Mark Recchi in the slot. Recchi saw a shooting lane open up and fired a wrist shot low blocker on Tampa Bay goalie Dan Ellis that sailed into the net with 19.7 seconds left to give the Bruins a 4-3 win before 20,204 at St. Pete Times Forum last night.
Three times, the Bruins pulled ahead by one goal. Three times, the Lightning responded to tie the score. But they had no answer to Recchi’s game-breaking strike.
“They came out flying,’’ said Thomas. “They’re a very fast team that uses their speed. They challenged us in the first couple minutes. In a way, it kind of helped us, too. We responded.
“It was a playoff-type game. That was fast, up-and-down, back-and-forth. I didn’t watch it on TV, obviously, but I imagine if I were watching on TV, I would have said after, ‘Man, that was a great game.’ ’’
The Bruins went on the power play at 18:10 when Steven Stamkos was called for boarding when he dumped Gregory Campbell into the wall. Thomas, however, nearly gave the Tampa Bay penalty kill a game-ending gift.
Thomas strayed from his crease to play the puck, then changed his mind when he realized there was no play. Thomas tried to hand the puck off to Steven Kampfer, but the two bobbled the exchange, allowing Adam Hall to pick it off and put a bad-angle shot on goal. Thomas had to scramble to stop the shot.
But, as Thomas requested, his teammates picked him up.
On the breakout, Dennis Seidenberg faked left to Recchi, then went right to Bergeron. As Bergeron crossed the blue line, Michael Ryder laid a subtle pick on Hall to open up a seam for Recchi.
“We switched our breakout,’’ Recchi explained. “We wanted to get it over to Bergy. We thought they were leaving that side open. They were pressuring to one side. Seidenberg made a great play to him. He made a great play to me, and I was fortunate to put it in.’’
The Bruins thought they had scored the deciding goal earlier in the third. At 2:56, Campbell beat Vincent Lecavalier on an offensive-zone draw, then pulled the puck back to Shawn Thornton, who put a shot on goal. Ellis stopped the shot, but Brad Marchand, making his first appearance since Dec. 18, backhanded the rebound into the net at 3:00 to give his club a 3-2 lead.
“He’s a competitive player,’’ Recchi said. “He’s a very talented player. He’s got a real good niche on our hockey club now. He competes like a bugger. He gets in their way. He draws penalties because he’s fast and he’s quick. He creates energy for our hockey club. That line’s been wonderful for us all year.’’
The goal appeared to cap a raucous performance by Marchand, who missed three straight games after being plastered by Montreal’s P.K. Subban Dec. 16. Marchand was one of only two Bruins to skate yesterday morning (Tuukka Rask was the other), but he participated in pregame warmups, then informed the coaching staff he was ready to play.
Twenty seconds into the game, Marchand was whistled for roughing. But at the same time, he took Sean Bergenheim with him for four minutes (roughing, cross-checking). On the following power play, Ryder gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
At 7:58 of the second, Marchand drove hard to the net and forced Victor Hedman to take a holding penalty. Then at 10:20, while Blake Wheeler was in the box for high-sticking, Marchand wiped out the Tampa Bay power play by prompting Teddy Purcell to take another holding infraction.
“It shows the importance he’s had in our lineup this year,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “I think he’s been a really good player. Whether he draws penalties or whether he makes plays like he did tonight, I thought he was skating well.
“You miss a guy like that in your lineup, so it was nice to have him back.’’
The Lightning, winners of six of their last seven entering last night, wouldn’t duck away that easily. At 10:50 of the third, after taking a cross-ice pass from Stamkos, Martin St. Louis went upstairs on Thomas to tie the score at 3-3. After St. Louis beat his former University of Vermont teammate, Thomas smashed his stick onto the ice.
But just as the Lightning refused to quit, the Bruins kept attacking.
“The guys wanted to be all in,’’ Recchi said. “We want to compete and we want to win. We want this road trip to be a steppingstone for our season.
“We talk about wanting to get better. So much of the results, it’s about us competing every night and having everybody all in and playing for each other. If we do that, we’re going to continue building this thing.’’