Brad Marchand scored his 34th goal of the season 10 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a win tonight and a share of 1st place in the Atlantic Division.  Both the Bruins and Lightning played last night but the effort was there for both teams.  The Lightning outplayed the Boston for most of the game but they could not put one by the red hot Jonas Gustavsson.  Like the ole saying goes, “they do not ask how, they ask how many.”

Here are BostonPucks.com’s 3 thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Gustavsson was Lights Out

There is no doubt who was the 1st star of this game.  Jonas Gustavsson was unbeatable tonight.  It was going to take a perfect shot to beat him.  Gustavsson had a career high 42 save and some of them were of the highlight variety.  Gustavsson made a huge kick save on Alex Killorn and also robbed Ryan Callahan where he actually raised his stick thinking it was a goal.  In a game where the Lightning thoroughly outplayed the Bruins Gustavsson gave the his team a chance to win this game.  If it was not for his goaltending heroics this game could have been ugly.  Gustavsson played in his 20th game (18 starts) of the season bringing his record to 11-5-1 while earning his first shutout of the season.

2. Team Defense Won the Game

As well as Gustavsson played tonight he was helped out by everyone buying into playing team defense.  The forwards where getting back to provide the “back pressure” and the defense were clearing out the juicy rebounds that Gustavsson was giving.  Although the Bruins gave up 42 shots the defense did not allow many 2nd or 3rd chances.  There were a few times in the game when David Krejci had his stick in the lane and knocked down a pass to prevent a back door opportunity.  In the first half of the 3rd period the Bruins were being out shot 9-0, but the defense was played a good enough “bend, don’t break” defense.

3. Bruins Have Been A Different Team Since The Trade Deadline

At the trade deadline on February 29th the Bruins mathematically had the most difficult schedule in the NHL ahead of them for the rest of the season.  In the 5 games since the deadline the Bruins are 4-0-1 and have earned 9 of 10 points.  If you would have told me the Bruins would go 4-0-1 against Calgary, Chicago, Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay I would have told you that your full of shit.  The Bruins have gone on good stretches this season but this stretch of games feel different.  Other than the 2nd and 3rd period last night and the Calgary game they have played well.  By adding John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak it has slotted players in a more natural positions.  Players like Kevan Miller, or Joe Morrow do not have to play top 4 minutes.  Also the additions have allowed coach Claude Julien to put together a really good 4th line.  You also cannot over look calling up Noel Acciari, who was taking defensive zone face offs while Patrice Bergeron was in the locker room tonight.

With all this being said I still think us Bruins fans still need to curb our expectations.  A first round match up against the Florida Panthers could be a coin flip and I do not see the Bruins beating the Lightning in 7 games.  It certainly seems like the Bruins will be playing either the Lightning or the Panthers in the first round, but you never know.  We can only hope this improved team continues on the same trajectory.

****Extras****

  • Brad Marchand is on pace to score 40 goals.  If he hits that milestone it will be the first time the Bruins had a 40 goal scorer since Glen Murray (44) in 2003.