Of the few good memories the Tampa Bay Lightning have from the lockout-shortened 2013 season, none of them came against the Boston Bruins. That trend continued in their opener this season, but plenty of good has followed.
The Lightning look for a sixth win in seven games since their season-opening loss as they try to avoid a sixth straight defeat to the defending Eastern Conference champions on Saturday night.
The Lightning went 0-3-0 against the Bruins (4-2-0) last season and fell 3-1 on Oct. 3 in Boston, but they've looked like a considerably different team since. Tampa Bay (5-2-0) has outscored its past six opponents 24-13, and improved to 3-1-0 on its season-high seven-game homestand with Thursday's 3-1 win over Minnesota.
Steven Stamkos scored with 5:04 left to break a third-period tie - his fifth goal and eighth point on the homestand.
"We're feeling pretty good about ourselves now and it brings a little bit of an attitude in the room," Lightning coach Jon Cooper told the team's official website. "You look at teams like the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and the L.A. Kings and they lose a game and they're almost like, 'what happened out there?' and that's the direction we're going."
Goaltender Ben Bishop, who the Lightning expected to be splitting time with Anders Lindback, is 5-0-0 with a 1.57 goals against average and .943 save percentage. He made 25 stops in the win over Minnesota and hasn't allowed more than two goals in a game.
"It's just not me," Bishop said. "It's the guys in front of me ... the guys are playing great. We win some games 7-2, and then we can win a game like this."
Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each have 10 points through seven games and are plus-7. The only game both went without a point was the opener against the Bruins.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask shut down the Lightning's top line then and has done the same to most of the other lines he's faced thus far, allowing nine goals in six games.
The Bruins have allowed a league low-tying 10 goals and have outshot every opponent since the Lightning, including a 40-29 edge Thursday in a 3-2 win at Florida.
They let a two-goal first-period lead slip away, but Reilly Smith scored his first goal as a Bruin in the final minute of regulation to beat former Boston goalie Tim Thomas.
"Got close at the end there. We didn't want that to happen," Smith said. "It's a great feeling to score and help the team get a win."
Daniel Paille and Dougie Hamilton also scored their first goals of the season. Hamilton's tally snapped Boston's 0-for-12 drought on the power play.
The Bruins haven't won six straight from the Lightning since February 2001-March 2002.
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