Tyler Johnson scored with 1:27 remaining in the third period and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a Stanley Cup Qualifiers round-robin game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Wednesday.
“[Yanni Gourde] and I had a little break there and he made a heck of a play just throwing it at the net,” Johnson said. “Bounce off the pad right to me. Great play by [Gourde] setting that up and I was able to find it.”
Brayden Point and Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay (2-0-0), and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the Lightning, who will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday in their final game of the round-robin in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference.
[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Bruins highlights]
Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner scored for Boston (0-2-0). Tuukka Rask made 32 saves.
The Bruins will play their final game of the round-robin against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. After winning the Presidents’ Trophy as the top team in the regular season, the Bruins can finish no higher than third among the four top teams in the East.
The top four seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs are being determined by points in the round-robin, with regular-season points percentage the tiebreaker.
“We are where we are now,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’re just trying to win a hockey game right now, get our game together for 60 minutes. … Would I have rather been No. 1 seed? Absolutely, keep it. That’s not going to happen, so we’ll get ready for Washington and play the best game we can and prepare for the postseason.”
Rask returned after being unfit to play in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Sunday.
“I was seeing the puck well, I was moving well, I had legs, I was tracking the puck, so I’ve got to be happy with that,” Rask said. “That was my first real game in a couple months, so I’m pretty happy how I felt.”
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos missed his second straight round-robin game because of a lower-body injury sustained before training camp.
The Lightning took a 2-0 lead before the Bruins rallied to tie it on goals by McAvoy at 16:43 of the second period and by Wagner at 1:47 of the third.
“I think we competed much harder,” Wagner said. “I think that hit and Torey [Krug’s] fight (with Lightning forward Blake Coleman in the first period) kind of got us going. I thought we battled hard in the corners and I thought we had two tough bounces on those first two goals, but I thought we competed way better overall for the 60 minutes.”
Tampa Bay also led Washington 2-0 before allowing two goals in the final 2:36 of the second period then winning 3-2 in a shootout on Monday.
Boston had two power plays after Wagner’s goal but combined for one shot on goal. The Bruins are 0-for-7 on the power play in their two round-robin games.
“Our [penalty] kill bailed us out there,” Coleman said. “I think in both games we got up to the 2-0 leads and we let the teams back in the games. That’s something we’re aware of and something we’ll harp on I’m sure. Unlike the Washington game we got those big (penaly) kills and we had a strong response and pushback in the second half of the period.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper opted to take the positive from allowing a total of four goals in two games.
“If we’e going to hold the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins to two or less goals in a game, it’s not a bad effort,” he said.
Point gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 7:33 of the first period when he knocked a loose puck off the skate of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.
Killorn put the Lightning ahead 2-0 lead when he tipped a Victor Hedman shot for a power-play goal at 10:32.
The Bruins have lost their three games in Toronto, including 4-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in an exhibition game on July 30, but found some positives Wednesday.
“I thought it was a good effort,” Boston forward Patrice Bergeron said. “Obviously not the start you want, but after that I thought we took it to them and had some pretty good looks, some chances, and tied the game up. You want to give yourself a better chance and go into overtime and find a way. It’s obviously not the result that you want, but definitely felt more like it tonight.”
NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report