Brad Marchand scored a power-play goal at 17:44 of the third period for the game winner. Boston's Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley also scored in the win. Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin made 20 saves.
Boston's power play provided two goals against the Lightning, which were the first two at the Garden this season. On the team's recent road trip, the PP converted on three of 11 opportunities on the man-advantage, but the Bruins entered Saturday's game 0-for-27 on home ice.
"It moved a lot better," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We made some better decisions. We were shooting pucks, so it was one of those nights when it was better. It has been better lately, as well. On the road trip, we had a pretty decent power play on the road trip, but we hadn't scored at home, yet, so it was nice to get a couple. It's a work in progress. We'll keep working at it, trying to make it better and tonight it got us a winner."
As good as the Bruins' penalty-killing unit has been all season, Tampa capitalized on a pair of power-play goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Steven Stamkos scored an impressive goal to give Tampa a 1-0 lead at 5:32 of the first period. He was on the goal line to the right of Khudobin when the skilled center unleashed a one-timer for the top-shelf tally.
It was Stamkos' 15th goal of the season, and he now has a nine-game point streak. Before the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien discussed Tampa's superstar.
"He's got such a one-timer and, not just that, he's really dangerous in those situations when they find a seam on their power play or even five-on-five," Julien said. "Him standing there on a one-timer, it becomes extremely dangerous for the opposing team.
"I think he's matured very well, as far as being a complete player. I can see a lot of leadership qualities in him. I can also see a guy who competes hard in all the other areas. He's not afraid to go into traffic. He's getting stronger on the puck everywhere. He's turning into a real elite player and has developed the way you'd want a young player to develop."
Tampa took a 2-0 lead on Alexander Killorn's power-play goal at 8:38 of the first period. It was the first time the Bruins have allowed two power-play goals in a game since the Pittsburgh Penguins notched a pair on April 3, 2012.
The Bruins entered Saturday's game without a power-play goal in 27 chances on home ice this season. Finally, that changed when Seguin scored on a one-timer from the bottom of the left faceoff circle at 3:22 of the second period.
"It definitely felt good," Seguin said. "I don't think I've really celebrated before in my life like I did on that one. It's definitely getting the monkey off the back a little bit."
Boston tied the game at 2-2 when Peverley scored on another one-timer, the end result of a solid tape-to-tape pass from defenseman Adam McQuaid at 4:39 of the second period.
In the waning minutes of the second, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was given a four-minute double-minor penalty for high sticking. Fortunately for Boston, the PK did its job and the period ended with the game still in a stalemate.
After the Bruins killed off Dougie Hamilton's penalty for holding the stick at 10:46 of the third period, Boston went on the power play and Marchand scored his 11th of the season en route to the win.
"We've had a lot of two-on-ones together, so we know where we're going," said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on the goal. "I was looking at [Tampa goalie Mathieu] Garon and I felt he was on my side a lot, cheating on my side for the shot, so I held the pass a little bit to make it a little easier for Marchy to shoot it."
BACK ME UP: Khudobin has played a total of five games for the Bruins the past two seasons, and Saturday was his first game at the Garden. With Tuukka Rask the No. 1 goalie in Boston and playing the majority of the games during this condensed schedule, Khudobin has accepted his role as the team's backup.
"If he wants to play here, he's got to adapt. We're not going to adapt to him. He adapts to us, and it's as simple as that," Julien said. "Goaltenders have a tough job, and sometimes, some play more than others. And Tuukka's had to adapt to Tim [Thomas], and now Dobby's got to adapt to Tuukka and then to our philosophy, and I don't see any issue."
After the Bruins erased a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 2-2, Boston's Jay Pandolfo was called for charging at 9:28 of the second period. Tampa produced sustained pressure during the power play, but Khudobin made four timely saves to stifle the Lightning's attack. He finished with 20 saves and improves to 3-1-0 in four games this season.
"He was good for us tonight," Julien said. "For a guy who hasn't played much, maybe at first he was trying to feel his way through, but he got better and better as the game went on. We were really happy with his performance. Our team is going to play the same way no matter who's there and we have confidence in both those guys."
WHISTLE BLOWER: It was evident the referees were calling a tight game, so during the first intermission the Bruins talked about the importance of staying out of the box.
"We can't control the refs and we're not going to complain about the refs," Milan Lucic said. "We're just going to go out there and play our game."
When Marchand scored the game-winning power-play goal at 17:44, Tampa's Brendan Mikkelson was in the box for a double minor when he caught Lucic with a high stick. Lucic was cut and clearly upset and after the game explained his anger.
"Well, one of their players made a comment about me diving and I didn't like that all," Lucic said. "He knows who he is and I'm glad we were able to beat him where it hurts the most."
MARCHY'S MARCH: Entering this lockout-shortened season, Marchand was one of only a few Bruins players not to play overseas during the work stoppage. Once the 48-game schedule began on Jan. 19, some questioned whether Marchand would be ready and productive. Well, he's proving a lot of people wrong. His game-winner on Saturday was his 11th goal in 17 games (he missed one game with an upper-body injury). He now has four goals and two assists in his last six games, and all four goals have been game-winners.
"He's got some good linemates, but at the same time he's got a quick release," Julien said. "He's got a good shot and he utilizes it. He's Johnny on the Spot, if we can put it that way because when we need a big goal, he's seems to be able to find it. He's a clutch player and the type of player you like to have on your team."
What's even more impressive is the fact Marchand has scored 11 times on only 34 shots this season and he leads the league in that category. In fact, Julien has told Marchand to shoot the puck more this season.
"Yeah, he's always kind of talked to me about shooting more," admitted Marchand. "There are times when I'm going in, I'm looking for different plays when the right play is to shoot. Anytime you get a puck on net, you got an opportunity to score. That's how they try to instill that in our minds."
SCRATCHED: Bruins veteran forward Shawn Thornton was a healthy scratch. He missed two games earlier this season with a concussion, but Saturday was the first time he has been a healthy scratch in 2013. Instead, veteran forward Jay Pandolfo was in the lineup. During Thursday's 2-1 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators, Thornton played 7:01. On Saturday, Pandolfo played the right side with Gregory Campbell in the middle and Chris Bourque on the left. Boston's third line consisted of Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Peverley.
After Saturday's win, Julien explained his decision to move Paille up to the third line, and to sit Thornton.
"Danny's a good skater. He forechecks well and he's a former first-round pick and a pretty good hockey player, Julien said. "He's a guy who's capable of moving up and playing in those kind of spots. Tonight was one of those situations when you take a guy like Thorny out you do lose some toughness, but we got other guys who can do the job. What we were trying to do was get a balance there with [Paille] on the third line, it allowed me to play any one of those three lines against their top two."
DROP 'EM: With Thornton out of the lineup, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid stepped up and dropped the gloves with the Lightning's Pierre-Cedric Labrie at 8:57 of the first period. It was a spirited bout with both players landing punches.
In the second period, just after Boston tied the game, Campbell and Tampa's B.J. Crombeen went toe-to-toe at 4:44.
The Bruins have a 36-13-2 record in the last two seasons when they are assessed a fighting major in a game.
UP NEXT: It's a quick turnaround for the Bruins. Boston will host the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Garden. In their only other meeting this season, the Bruins beat the Habs 2-1 on Feb. 6 at Bell Centre.