By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 4-1 Lightning: And that’s all for this one. Not a memorable night for the Boston Bruins, as the Lightning scored into an empty net on the power play to earn a 4-1 win to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 on Friday night will be a massive one for the Bruins.
Third period, 1:29, 3-1 Lightning: With Cirelli racing to a puck for a potential empty-netter, Krug tripped the forward and is off to the box. Rask comes back on the ice, and the fans are flocking for the exit.
Third period, 3:00, 3-1 Lightning: The goalie has been pulled. Six skaters for Boston.
Third period, 6:43, 3-1 Lightning: If this were a tie game, or even a one-goal game, you’d have reason to feel very good about the Bruins. They’re creating chances, and they’re not losing any battles this period. It’s just tough to wholly believe in their comeback. Vasilevskiy has been good, the Lightning as a team have blocked 18 shots, and Tampa’s offense has been so effective that it feels as if even if the Bruins score, the Lightning will answer right back.
But we’ve got just about seven minutes left for me to be proven wrong here.
Third period, 10:18, 3-1 Lightning: If the Bruins do pull off this comeback (still a long way to go), remember those two moments. First, Rask denied Kucherov all alone on a breakaway to keep the score locked at 3-1. Then the fourth line generated a lot of possession and a couple of chances down in the Tampa end. Prior to the Kucherov breakaway, Marchand was touring the offensive zone, trying to set something up as well.
Third period, 20:00, 3-1 Lightning: Third period. It’s a big one.
End of second period, 3-1 Lightning: The Bruins killed the penalty, though referees Wes McCauley and Marc Joannette both managed to miss an obvious high stick from Kucherov on Zdeno Chara, who’s the tallest man to ever play hockey. Hard to miss, but these two managed to do it.
Second period, 4:03, 3-1 Lightning: Well, that’s not going to help. Brad Marchand to the box for … slashing. On Stralman. Isn’t that just perfect?
Lightning to the power play, looking to bury a back-breaker.
Second period, 4:48, 3-1 Lightning: Dan Girardi is having a rough night. After getting flipped over Marchand’s back in the closing second of the first period, he just got stapled to the boards by Backes. Paquette immediately jumped Backes, and the two dropped the gloves behind the Tampa net. It wasn’t much of a fight, but Backes scored the takedown and came away with a bloody nose to look cool. Everyone wants that.
The Bruins won’t be going on the power play though, despite Paquette instigating. That’s because Backes got hit with a boarding minor on top of the five-minute major. Paquette did get the instigator penalty, which comes with a 10-minute misconduct.
At the very least, the building is alive after that one.
Backes’ hit may get a look from the department of player safety. He did see Giardi’s numbers the whole way and still drove through him. It will at least get a look.
Second period, 5:22, 3-1 Lightning: Just as the Bruins were building momentum, they got hemmed in their own zone on a long shift that ended with Torey Krug hauling down Brayden Point behind the Tampa net. The Bruins were able to kill the penalty, thanks to a big kick save by Rask on Kucherov, but things have certainly steadied for the Lightning after that power play.
Second period, 9:04, 3-1 Lightning: The song remains about the same. Bruins are controlling pace but have nothing to show for it. Despite getting outshot 7-2, the Lightning have the two best scoring opportunities of the period, most recently a tip-in attempt by Kucherov that Rask read perfectly.
It really could — or should — be 6-1 right now. For as well as the Bruins are playing overall, they’re still loose in their own end, and the result is this rather tenuous situation.
Though given all the hard work that’s been evident this period, it does feel as though one more Boston goal here, and the tide could actually turn.
Second period, 13:28, 3-1 Lightning: Give the Bruins this: They’re dominating play this period. They’ve got the edge in shots, 4-0, and they’ve forced Tampa to take three icings. They probably should have generated a power play, too, after Paquette hauled down Kuraly behind the Tampa net, but there was no call.
That being said, the Bruins haven’t exactly been generating dynamite scoring chances. The effort is there (Krejci, in particular, made a pretty special move before setting up McAvoy for a tricky backhand bid that went high), but no results yet. At least defensively, they seem to have cleaned it up. But as the first period showed, it only takes one shift for that to go haywire.
Second period, 20:00, 3-1 Lightning: Well, looks like they’re going to go ahead and play the second period. Here we go.
End of first period, 3-1 Lightning: That’ll do it for the first period. The good thing for the Bruins? Well, technically, it’s still a game. Technically. But if they keep playing like that, they’ll lose by 10.
The Lightning got 19 shots on net that period, buried three, took two power plays, and responded to a Bruins goal with one of their own. The Bruins only felt good for 2:31 that elapsed between Bergeron’s goal and Cirelli’s response.
Rask also had to make one ridiculous save and at least two other high quality saves just to keep the Bruins afloat. They’re drowning out there, and the Bruins are going to have to have one of their Game 7 against Toronto types of locker room speeches here.
First period, 3:17, 3-1 Lightning: The good feelings are gone. Cirelli gets a shot in front, and Rask makes the save. But Kevan Miller just kind of stands there, and allows Cirelli to take a second whack at the puck. This time, it’s in the net, and the Lightning once again have a two-goal lead.
First period, 5:48, 2-1 Lightning: The Bruins are on the board.
After Stralman went off for a trip, the power play got to work. Rick Nash couldn’t redirect a shot past Vasilevskiy, but his big body caused all sorts of problems when he hit the deck in front of the crease. Eventually David Pastrnak got his stick on a bouncing puck and made a really nifty pass to Bergeron, who buried a shot from the front of the net. And we’ve got a hockey game.
Earlier, Tampa once again almost went up 3-0, but this happened:
Not sure what you call that one. But the Bruins are happy to just call it no goal.
First period, 9:21, 2-0 Lightning: It’s still 2-0, but it would have been 3-0 if not for an unreal save by Tuukka Rask on J.T. Miller. Immediately off the draw after a Riley Nash interference penalty, Miller found himself all alone in front of the net. He deked to his forehand and looked to easily deposit the puck into the empty net, but Rask went sprawling on his back with his goal stick to close the door. The Bruins were able to kill the rest of the penalty.
But they’ve now got another one to kill, as Charlie McAvoy is in the box for roughing.
First period, 16:41, 2-0 Lightning: Krejci got thrown out of a faceoff. Tampa won it. They cycled the puck. Rask made a save on a point shot, but the puck ended up back out at the blue line. Palat broke to the net and redirected a Hedman shot into the net, and it’s 2-0.
First period, 18:13, 1-0 Lightning: The Lightning have scored on the ir first shot of the game. Matt Grzelcyk couldn’t find a pass at his feet, allowing Tyler Johnson to hop on the puck and find Ondrej Palat on a gift of a 2-on-1. Yikes. Terrible start for the home team.
Grzelcyk had gathered the puck with his hands on a flip into the zone, and he just lost track of it and skated way. Very, very weird.
First period, 20:00: The puck has been dropped, and this one is underway.
7:12 p.m.: It is time.
6:43 p.m.: Both teams are on the ice for warmups, and as expected, Tommy Wingels is skating on the fourth line with Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly for Boston.
But that’s not the news of the moment. The news of the moment is that former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez will be on hand tonight to wave the banner to get the sell-out crowd nice and loud for the opening faceoff.
3 p.m.: It feels like summer outside, and there’s a big hockey game to be played at the Garden. There’s nothing quite like this time of year in Boston.
It is indeed a wonderful time, as the Bruins are set to host the Lightning in Game 3 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s a series that features the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, and so far, it’s looked like it.
The Bruins earned an impressive 6-2 victory in Game 1 over the weekend, and Tampa showed great resolve in responding with a dominating 4-2 win in Game 2.
Now the series shifts to Boston. The last time the Lightning visited this building, it was not pretty for them. In that game, the Bruins outshot the Lightning 17-6 in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. With a 2-1 lead in the third period, the Bruins displayed some world-class puck movement when Patrice Bergeron passed to Brad Marchand, who passed to Torey Krug, who passed back to Bergeron to take a 3-1 lead. The Bruins ended up burying an empty-netter after Tampa had cut the lead to one, allowing Boston to seize first place in the division and the conference for the moment.
That game might also be remembered for Tuukka Rask throwing down with Cory Conacher.
That was a wild one. Tonight’s game figures to be even better.