Little by little, the Bruins are beginning to find their game.
It started last Thursday, when the B’s played a very good third period to knock off a lousy Florida Panthers team. On Saturday night, the Bruins sandwiched two good periods around a bad one to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And yesterday, the B’s put forth one of their better defensive efforts to shut out the Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-0, at the Garden. Tuukka Rask stopped all 28 Tampa Bay shots, and, to be sure, there were some difficult saves to be made, especially late in the game while protecting a two-goal lead.
The victory marked the best, most complete win since the Bruins blanked the Lightning, 5-0, in Tampa on Oct. 19.

“I think our team is playing better all the time and we looked more like the team we want to be (yesterday),” coach Claude Julien said. “We played a pretty good team and I thought our guys handled themselves pretty well.”

The B’s have earned seven of a possible eight points on the current homestand, which ends Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and yesterday’s win vaulted them over the Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs into second place. The Bruins trail the Lightning by just a point for first place.

A tight game changed dramatically in 20 seconds late in the second period. First, Patrice Bergeron scored a gritty goal at 17:09 when defenseman Torey Krug threw a puck into a pile of bodies in front of the net. The puck pinged around before Bergeron was able to bury it past Lightning goalie Anders Lindback, who made 23 saves.

On the next shift, the B’s really seized control of the game when Daniel Paille gave them a 2-0 lead 20 seconds after the Bergeron goal. Tampa Bay’s Keith Aulie could not keep a Gregory Campbell clearing attempt in the Bruins zone at the right point, and that sent Paille off on a 2-on-1 with Shawn Thornton. With the Lightning’s Eric Brewer playing Thornton and giving Paille plenty of space, Paille cut in front of the net and beat Lindback with a backhander.

“It’s always good to get on the board, especially in a low-scoring game like (this one),” Paille said.

While that goal changed the complexion of the game, the complexion of the entire NHL season may have changed a little earlier in the second period when Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos suffered a serious injury. Tied for the league lead in goals and points, Stamkos, battling with Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton on the backcheck, crashed feet first into the Lightning net. Following the collision with the post, Stamkos was taken off the ice on a stretcher and later diagnosed with a broken right leg.