TAMPA, Fla. — The Boston Bruins are making a charge to claim the Eastern Conference’s top spot.
Reilly Smith scored the lone shootout goal in the seventh round to lead the Bruins past the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.
Smith put an in-close shot between the pads of Ben Bishop. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask caught a break on Tampa Bay’s seventh shootout attempt when Richard Panik hit the post.
“Many times you get that gut feeling, and I said, `You know what, this is probably a good chance for Smitty to get himself going,’ ” Boston Coach Claude Julien said. “I even told one of my assistant coaches, ‘It’s going to end here.’ ”
Smith has not scored a regulation goal in his last 11 games.
“It was good to be able to help the team get an extra point on that,” Smith said. “Personally, it may take a little bit off my shoulders but hopefully I can get back to it next game.”
The Bruins, winners of four straight, got regulation goals from Daniel Paille, Carl Soderberg and Johnny Boychuk. Boston trails East-leading Pittsburgh by a point.
Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Lightning, who are 1-4-1 since the end of the Olympic break.
“We, at least, got a point out of this one, so it’s definitely a step,” Tampa Bay Coach Jon Cooper said. “This is the best we’ve played since the break.”
The Bruins outshot Tampa Bay, which had the game’s first seven shots, 32-20.
Boston pulled even at 3 when Boychuk snapped a 20-game goal drought 8:11 into the third.
Filppula put the Lightning ahead 3-2 from the slot at 9:31 of the second after the teams had each scored twice earlier in the period.
Palat ended Tampa Bay’s long scoring drought against the Bruins on a short-handed goal to make it 1-0 just 27 seconds into the second.
After Barberio scored at 4:13 of the second, the Bruins had two goals in 1:31 by Paille (6:58) and Soderberg (8:29) to tie it at 2.
“Even though we fell behind 2-0, it was just small mistakes that ended up in the back of our net, but we seemed to find our rhythm after that,” Julien said.
Lightning star Steven Stamkos played in his second game since returning from a broken right shin, which occurred in a game at Boston on Nov. 11. The center, who has no points through the two games, lost out on a breakaway chance in overtime when time ran out as he approached the Boston zone.
“I saw it coming and I’m looking at the clock,” Cooper said. “It’s just one of those things.”
BLUE JACKETS 1, PREDATORS 0: Artem Anisimov scored with 6:25 remaining in the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves to lead Columbus to victory at Nashville.
It was Bobrovsky’s third shutout of the season for Columbus, which has won 4 of 5.
SENATORS 5, JETS 3: Ales Hemsky had four assists in his second game with Ottawa, and the struggling Senators won at Winnipeg.
It was Hemsky’s first points for the Senators since he was acquired on Wednesday from the Edmonton Oilers. He was placed on Ottawa’s top line. Milan Michalek scored the game’s first goal during a power play with an assist from Hemsky and center Jason Spezza, who had three assists.
BLUES 2, AVALANCHE 1: Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke up a scoreless game in the second period, helping St. Louis win at Colorado in a Central Division showdown.
Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal early in the third period, and the Blues won their fourth straight.
Colorado finally solved Miller midway through the final period.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, FLYERS 3: Joffrey Lupul scored 2:21 into overtime for host Toronto, which squandered a third-period lead but bounced back to beat Philadelphia.
DEVILS 5, HURRICANES 4: Tuomo Ruutu scored with 6:30 to play against his former teammates, and New Jersey won at home against Carolina after squandering a three-goal lead.
CAPITALS 3, COYOTES 2: Troy Brouwer scored a power-play goal off a rebound to cap a rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period as host Washington beat Phoenix.
CAPITALS: Four years after drafting him, Washington finally signed Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov, selected 26th overall in the 2010 NHL draft, is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger who spent the last four years playing for his hometown team, Chelyabinsk Traktor of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
SABRES: Buffalo recalled defenseman Chad Ruhwedel from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
The move was made after defenseman Alexander Sulzer sustained a lower-body injury in Friday’s 2-0 loss at Florida.
Ruhwedel, 23, has played in seven games for the Sabres this season. The Sabres signed him out of UMass-Lowell in 2013.
BLUE JACKETS: Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray will miss 4 to 6x weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
The 20-year-old Murray, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NHL draft, has three goals and 17 assists in 61 games this season.