Bruins smack down Lightning, now tops in East

Chara, 41, signs contract extension to play for Bruins next year

The Boston Bruins entered the first intermission ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday after scoring two goals 32 seconds apart in the final minute of the opening period. The B's dominated the first period to the tune of 17-6 shots on goal and a 2-0 score, with both tallies coming in the final minute. Bergeron finished the game with a goal in two assists. The Bruins had a 2-0 lead going into the second period.

J.T. Miller scored a power-play goal for Tampa Bay in the second and Victor Hedman added a goal in the third.

The Bruins are an impressive 25-7-5 at home this season and with Tuukka Rask having a spectacular season in the Boston crease they are on the short list of teams who should be considered Stanley Cup contenders.

Tampa Bay had an apparent goal waved off in the third a few minutes before Krug passed to Bergeron at the side of the net for a goal to put Boston up 3-1 at 11:59 of the period.

Pastrnak finished with the rare "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" - a goal, assist, and fighting major.

But on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins broke free of the the constraints that had bound them up until this point in the season and, for the first time since October, the Tampa Bay Lightning were no longer atop the Atlantic Division.

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Boston takes on the Florida Panthers Saturday at the TD Garden, and will take on Florida another two times before the season ends.

Schaller put Boston up 1-0 after stealing the puck from Ryan McDonagh just inside the blue line and started a 2-on-1 break with Tommy Wingels, who got off a shot as Schaller crashed the net and poked in the rebound. The Bruins are now sport a ridiculous 33-0-4 mark in 2017-18 when they take a 2-goal lead, and are 254-15-15 under such circumstances dating back to the start of the 2011-12 campaign.

BLACKHAWKS: Defenseman Brent Seabrook played in his 1,000th National Hockey League regular-season game.

NOTES: The Lightning and Bruins play one more time in the regular season, Tuesday night in Tampa Bay. "He (Rask) stood up for himself and obviously guys will jump in if necessary".

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has signed a contract extension.

But at this point, it's hard to imagine anyone in the East being able to hold this Bruins team back.

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