BOSTON — Beating the Bruins is a difficult task for the Lightning.
Trying to do so while losing the league’s leading scorer in the middle of the game made the task that more difficult.
For the second time in as many meetings, Tampa Bay was blanked by Boston, this time a 3-0 loss at TD Garden on Monday in front of an announced crowd of 17,565.
Tuukka Rask stopped all 28 shots he faced, while Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille and Jarome Iginla scored for Boston, which improve to 3-0 against Tampa Bay this season — allowing one goal in those meetings.
Monday’s game proved more difficult when Steven Stamkos left the game in the second period on a stretcher after breaking his right tibia bone while crashing into the post while back-checking on a play with 7:11 remaining.
The game was scoreless at that point, but the Bruins quickly took a 2-0 lead as Bergeron and Paille scored 20 seconds apart with 2:51 and 2:31 left in the period.
While there may have been some initial shock after seeing Stamkos leave the ice on a stretcher, the Lightning didn’t play the rest of the game looking dazed. During the final two periods, Tampa Bay outshot the Bruins 21-14 and had opportunities to get on the scoreboard but couldn’t solve Rask.
“For sure (there’s some shock). Obviously he’s a big part of our team. But I thought we battled,’’ captain Marty St. Louis said. “We just couldn’t get the puck in the net.’’
In three games against the Lightning this season, Rask is 3-0 with a 0.33 goals-against average while stopping 83 of 84 shots for a .988 save percentage.
“Rask is obviously one of the best goalies in the league, so we have a hard time finding the net,’’ said Lightning G Anders Lindback, who stopped 23 shots in the loss. “And they are really good protecting the lead, so once they got up they kind of backed off and they manage the game really well. We had a couple of looks but we didn’t manage to get anything.’’
Two more down
The Lightning finished the game with just 15 skaters on the bench after the loss of D Sami Salo and D Keith Aulie, along with the injury to Stamkos.
Salo left late in the second period after being hit behind the net. Salo struggled to get to his skates and was unable to put weight on his right leg, getting aid for the referee, on his way back to the bench. He did not return.
Salo was diagnosed with a lower-body injury and is not expected to play tonight in Montreal, though GM Steve Yzerman said the injury is not considered severe.
Aulie took two shifts in the third period before heading down the hallway to the team locker room and did not return. Yzerman said Aulie suffered an unspecified upper-body injury and his status for tonight was unknown.
“We went 16 games without anybody getting hurt, and the snowball went down the hill today,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “It was a little tiny guy and it ended up a mountain when it got to the bottom of the hill. I don’t know the prognosis on all of these guys, but you lose nobody for 16 games and then you lose three guys in one. That’s tough.’’
Tampa Bay is expected to announce at least one call-up ahead of tonight’s game in Montreal.
Nuts and Bolts
C Valtteri Filppula appeared in his 500th career game. ... Tampa Bay scratched D Mark Barberio, LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie and RW B.J. Crombeen. ... The Lightning have killed off 38 of 40 power-plays against in the past 12 games. ... Tampa Bay has gone five consecutive games without a power-play goal. ... Boston has handed Tampa Bay three of its five losses this season. ... St. Louis is scoreless in the past four games.