Marc Savard celebrated his new seven-year contract extension by scoring his 200th NHL goal and Marco Sturm scored twice in 2:33 to lead the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Tim Thomas stopped 39 shots in his second straight start since missing six games with an undisclosed injury.
Mark Recchi had three assists, and Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron had two apiece to help Boston move back into first place in the NHL Northeast Division. The Bruins have earned points in its last seven games (6-0-1).
Savard has five goals and six assists in his last 11 games.
Boston led 4-0 after two periods before Jeff Halpern scored Tampa Bay's only goal 1:27 into the third period. Mike Smith made 35 saves for the Lightning, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
"The expectation was so high. Us getting off to a slow start kind of threw everybody for a loop — fans, media," Julien said. "I think we're finding our game slowly."
The Bruins will return to action with a pair of weekend games on Hockey Night in Canada.
Boston travels to Montreal on Friday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET) and hosts Toronto on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p. m. ET).
Savard, who has led the Bruins in scoring in each of his three seasons in Boston, signed the big $28-million US extension on Tuesday. He missed 15 games with a foot injury before returning on Nov. 23, and has a point in five straight games.
Savard gave Boston the lead 8:05 into the game.
"It was a load off my mind, to tell the truth," Savard said of the contract extension. "I'd been thinking about it for a while, especially during the time off. That's when we really pressed to get it done. I know this is probably my last one. I wanted to stay in one city, so it's good to be able to do it here."
The Bruins made it 2-0 when Chara took a shot from the point and Bergeron banged in the rebound with 5:57 left in the first period.
The Lightning gave Sturm an alley and he took a shot on net, then followed after the rebound when Smith let the puck drop to the ice at his right. Recchi came in and swatted at it, but it was Sturm who pushed it over the goal line to make it 3-0.
Sturm scored again minutes later when Recchi stole the puck from Andrej Meszaros along the boards and pushed it up to Bergeron, who crossed it to Sturm in the slot for the tip-in.
The Lightning ended the shutout bid with 18:33 left when Halpern scored on his own rebound.
"We had some chances, we just didn't finish," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "Smitty didn't smother the puck a couple of times. Those are the ones that will hurt you."
Tampa Bay came up blank in six power-play opportunities.