The pursuit of a scoring title ran into a brick wall.
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask stole the show Thursday night and kept the league’s top two scorers off the scoresheet, stopping all 30 shots in the Bruins’ 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of an announced crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.
The game was a makeup of the game originally scheduled Feb.9 that was postponed due to a blizzard.
Marty St. Louis, coming off a hat trick the night before to grab a two-point lead in the scoring race, and Steven Stamkos — tied for second overall in points — had their fair share of scoring opportunities as their line, which also includes Teddy Purcell, combined for 11 shots on goal, but Rask was up to the task.
“We played a pretty solid game on the road against a good team. They just didn’t go in,” Stamkos said. “We had some good chances, but their goalie played well.”
Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille scored for Boston against Anders Lindback, who made 22 saves in the Tampa Bay net.
The loss keeps the Lightning in the 28th overall position in the league standings heading in to the season finale Saturday against Florida, which would give Tampa Bay the third-best odds of winning Monday’s draft lottery. St. Louis will carry a two-point lead in the race for the Art Ross Trophy into Saturday’s finale.
But none of that was on anybody’s mind Thursday. Instead, the focus was on Tampa Bay’s play and the stellar play of Rask.
“I have to give our guys a lot of credit, they played a solid 60 (minutes),” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I think Rask started to get some confidence off making a couple of saves, and when a goalie starts getting some confidence good things can happen, especially in this league.”
Tampa Bay had the better of the play in the first period against a Boston team under pressure for underwhelming play heading into the playoffs. But despite getting two power-play opportunities — including one in the final minute — and outshooting the Bruins 9-4, the game was scoreless after the opening 20 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Boston to get on the board in the second period.
Finding some emotion off a fight by defenseman Andrew Ference, who engaged Benoit Pouliot, Brad Marchand was able to enter the Tampa Bay zone and drive the defense back. That opened up plenty of space at the left point for Seidenberg, who drilled a slap shot through traffic and past Lindback at 4:22.
Tampa Bay had a chance to pull even when Stamkos was alone down the slot off a nice feed from St. Louis, only to be robbed on a glove save by Rask at 12:40 to deny Stamkos his 30th of the season.
The Bruins grabbed a two-goal lead less than a minute later, taking advantage of a Pouliot turnover just inside the blue line to Scott Thornton. With numbers down low, Thornton found Greg Campbell at the left circle to create a 2-on-1 chance as Campbell zipped a pass to Paille for a one-timer past Lindback at 13:31.
“We got our looks, we just didn’t score,” St. Louis said.
Rask continued to come up big for the Bruins, stopping two grade-A chances from Alex Killorn, first off a shot from the slot and then a split-second later on a rebound chance at 14:38 of the second period.
“It’s a game of inches,” Cooper said. “Everybody makes mistakes and, truthfully, we may have made less mistakes then the Bruins did. We couldn’t bury our chances and it just seemed that when we made the mistake it ended up in our net, so that’s a little tough to swallow.”