TAMPA, Fla. – The Boston Bruins couldn’t help but wonder how the Tampa Bay Lightning have managed to lose so many games this season.
“They didn’t play like (a team near the bottom of the standings),” Boston coach Claude Julien said after Tampa Bay’s 4-3 victory Sunday night. “I think if all the cards were aligned, I don’t think they be in the bottom of the league. You just have to look at the guys that they have up front. There’s a lot of firepower there.”
Vaclav Prospal beat Manny Fernandez on a power play with 1:33 left to lift the Lightning past the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.
Jeff Halpern, Adam Hall and Mark Recchi also scored for Tampa Bay, and Karri Ramo made 40 saves. The Lightning are 13th in the Eastern Conference, 16 points out of one of the last of the eight playoff positions.
“We’re all playing for something,” Prospal said. “If a team like (Boston) coming into our building wouldn’t be a challenge for us, then maybe we should get a new job.
“We’re a lot of points out of a playoff spot. Right now, for us, it’s just about playing hard every night and come out with an effort that will get us the win.”
Phil Kessel, Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara scored for Boston, coming off a 2-0 loss at Florida on Saturday night.
Kessel opened the scoring 1:38 into the first with his 25th goal of the season. Kessel fired a shot over Ramo’s right shoulder.
“It’s a touch team to play against and we played a hell of a game,” Ramo said. “It’s not always the team with the best players that wins. It’s the team that refuses to lose. It was really good to end up a winner against a league-leading team.”
Halpern tied it at 4:44 with a one-timer to left side of the net, and the Lighting took the lead 15 seconds later on Hall’s goal.
Ference tied it at two with 3:18 left in the period.
“Our guys competed hard tonight I don’t think anybody’s going to dispute that we were the better team out there tonight,” Julien said. “If the effort is like (tonight) night after night, then I think we’ll get back on track.”
Recchi scored his 13th goal of the season 10 minutes into in the second, and Chara tied it with 4:43 to go in the period.
“Obviously they’re a good team,” Kessel said. “They battled us hard tonight and ended up on top.”
Notes: Columbus claimed Lightning F Chris Gratton off waivers Saturday. It was the second time Gratton had been on re-entry waivers since being sent to Norfolk. The Lightning are still responsible for half of Gratton’s US$1.25 million salary. … Bruins C Petteri Nokelainen missed his fifth straight game because of an eye injury. … The Lightning sent F Steve Downie and D Ty Wishart to Norfolk. … Tampa Bay D Marek Malik returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a lower-body injury, while D Lukas Krajicek missed the game because of a lower-body injury.