BOSTON – Milan Lucic broke a 1-all tie on a goal with 3:42 left and the Boston Bruins won their seventh straight and moved alone into second place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
Steven Kampfer also scored for the Bruins, who were back at home after going unbeaten on a six-game road trip.
The Lightning and Bruins had identical records at 37-19-7 entering the game. The Bruins pulled a game ahead and clinched the tiebreaker with a 3-1 series win against the Lightning, who lead the Southeast Division.
Tim Thomas had 27 saves for the Bruins, who have allowed five goals in their past five games.
Eric Brewer scored for Tampa Bay. Mike Smith stopped 26 shots for Lightning, who also lost 2-1 the night before at New Jersey.
Smith was making his first start in Boston since Dec. 2, when he was pulled after allowing five goals on 22 shots in an 8-1 loss. Smith was sharp this time, stopping several point-blank shots by Boston and keeping the Bruins from breaking the tie until Lucic found a loose puck and lifted it over a pileup of players in front of the Tampa Bay net late in the third period.
Lucic started the play with a centering pass to Nathan Horton, who was leveled right away as the pileup began. Tampa Bay never got control of the puck, which drifted out of the mess of players right to Lucic at the left side of the net and Lucic got his 28th goal of the season.
David Krejci also got an assist on the goal, which decided a chippy game between two division leaders.
Brewer put the Lightning up 1-0 on a slap shot from inside the blue line with 15:56 left in the second period. It was the first goal as a member of the Lightning for Brewer, picked up Feb. 18 in a trade with St. Louis.
The lead barely lasted 2 minutes, when Kampfer blasted a slap shot by Smith off assists by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, who were making their home debuts for the Bruins.
Then the game started to get nasty.
Steve Downie for Tampa Bay and Shawn Thornton got 10-minute misconducts after Chris Kelly went crashing into Smith and the Lightning net. Each whistle after that was followed by a scrum, although none developed into an actual fight until Lucic and Brewer got their gloves off while the officials were separating other players.
Horton was heading to the penalty box already and Lucic was called for roughing and fighting, giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 for 1:53.
The Bruins snuffed the Lightning during the advantage, allowing only a couple of shots, then got a breakaway when Horton left the penalty box, but Smith stopped him with his right pad to keep it tied.
Notes: The Lightning were without captain Vincent Lecavalier, who was out with an undisclosed mid-body injury. ... Boston's Mark Recchi played his 1,635th game, tying him for sixth with Scott Stevens on the NHL's all time games played list. ... Tomas Kaberle, Kelly and Peverley, all picked up by the Bruins before the trade deadline, were making their home debut for the Bruins. ... Claude Julien coached his 310th game for the Bruins, tying him with Lynn Patrick for sixth in team history.