"They didn't play like (a team near the bottom of the standings)," Boston coach Claude Julien said after Tampa Bay's 4-3 victory Sunday night. "I think if all the cards were aligned, I don't think they be in the bottom of the league. You just have to look at the guys that they have up front. There's a lot of firepower there."
Jeff Halpern, Adam Hall and Mark Recchi also scored for Tampa Bay, and Karri Ramo made 40 saves. The Lightning are 13th in the Eastern Conference, 16 points out of one of the last of the eight playoff positions.
"We're all playing for something," Prospal said. "If a team like (Boston) coming into our building wouldn't be a challenge for us, then maybe we should get a new job.
"We're a lot of points out of a playoff spot. Right now, for us, it's just about playing hard every night and come out with an effort that will get us the win."
Kessel opened the scoring 1:38 into the first with his 25th goal of the season. Kessel fired a shot over Ramo's right shoulder.
"It's a touch team to play against and we played a hell of a game," Ramo said. "It's not always the team with the best players that wins. It's the team that refuses to lose. It was really good to end up a winner agianst a league-leading team."
Halpern tied it at 4:44 with a one-timer to left side of the net, and the Lighting took the lead 15 seconds later on Hall's goal.
Ference tied it at 2 with 3:18 left in the period.
"Our guys competed hard tonight I don't think anybody's going to dispute that we were the better team out there tonight," Julien said. "If the effort is like (tonight) night after night, then I think we'll get back on track."
Recchi scored his 13th goal of the season 10 minutes into in the second, and Chara tied it with 4:43 to go in the period.
"Obviously they're a good team," Kessel said. "They battled us hard tonight and ended up on top."
|Vaclav Prospal (20) celebrates after providing the Lightning with the winning goal late in the third. (AP)|
|Tampa Bay (20-28-12) «||2||1||1||4|
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|01:38||Phil Kessel (25), Slap Shot. Assist: Savard, Lucic|
|04:44||Jeff Halpern (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pettinger, Eminger|
|04:59||Adam Hall (4), Wrap Shot. Assist: Craig, Artyukhin|
|16:42||Power Play - Andrew Ference (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Savard, Wideman|
|10:00||Mark Recchi (13), Tip-In. Assist: Melichar, Koci|
|15:17||Zdeno Chara (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kobasew, Ward|
|18:27||Power Play - Vaclav Prospal (15), Wrist Shot. Assist: Halpern, St. Louis|
|09:28||Koci, 5 min, Fighting|
|09:28||Thornton, 5 min, Fighting|
|13:59||Ference, 2 min, Tripping|
|15:04||Halpern, 2 min, Goaltender Interference|
|17:07||Roberts, 5 min, Fighting|
|17:07||Stuart, 5 min, Fighting|
|18:05||Thornton, 2 min, Cross-Checking|
|18:05||Thornton, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct|
|03:52||Malik, 2 min, Interference|
|11:36||Artyukhin, 2 min, Tripping|
|02:39||Yelle, 2 min, High-Sticking|
|02:44||Malone, 2 min, Hooking|
|05:37||Artyukhin, 2 min, Boarding|
|15:15||Krejci, 2 min, Interference|
|17:10||Ference, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass|
|Shots On Goal|
|Power Play Conversions|
|Attendance - 18454|
|Referees - Kelly Sutherland, Mike Hasenfratz|
|Linesmen - Jay Sharrers, Dan Schachte|