After a tight game against the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to use their offensive prowess to their advantage to beat the Bruins. Once again, captain Steven Stamkos won’t be available in this game, so they’ll have their work cut out for them in trying to fill his spot in the line-up. The Bruins will surely be looking to grind down Tampa’s offence and try to mitigate any threat they pose. If they focus heavily on Tampa’s main weapons in Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, they should be able to come away with the victory. It will be an interesting game to watch regardless, as this could very well be a taste of what’s to come in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The opening frame was a very even game everywhere besides the scoresheet. Both teams were able to set up in their offensive zones and get some shots and create offence. The difference maker in the first was the goals that Tampa Bay capitalized on. Less than 10 minutes into the game, Tuuka Rask made a save and there was a scramble as no one could find the lose puck. Brayden Point was there and banged it in through Rask’s five-hole giving them the 1-0 lead. Only minutes later, Tampa goes on the power play and they look sharp. Completing east-to-west passes, Boston can’t stop them. Then, Victor Hedman fires a shot from the point that’s redirected by Alex Killorn who’s in front of the Boston net and puts the Lightning up 2-0.
At the end of the first, Boston leads in shots 9-8 but are down by two goals. It’s clearly not so much that Boston isn’t getting chances, it’s the quality and the fact that Tampa was able to capitalize on theirs.
The same trend continues, Boston isn’t capitalizing on their chances and Tampa is even getting more. A key observation I had was that a lot of Boston’s shots were coming from the point or the half-wall. Tampa was keeping them from getting into the slot for the most part. This is that case, even with Boston’s first goal of the game as Torey Krug passes the puck to Charlie MacAvoy who wires it past an unsuspecting Andrei Vasilevskiy.
This is a major disappointment for Tampa, who were definitely the better team up to this point. They lead in shots and were leading in expected goals as well. This shows that they were getting more chances, as well as quality chances.
Luckily for the Lightning, they’re able to limit threats for the remainder of the period. They finish leading in shots with 11-9 in the second and 19-18 in the game up to this point.
If you remember the previous game, Tampa Bay broke down for a few minutes and coughed up a 2-0 lead. This, was a very similar situation. Vasilevskiy let in the MacAvoy goal with just over three minutes to go in the second and now gave up another less than two minutes into the third. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, fires a shot from the point, it trickles past Vasilevskiy and Chris Wagner comes in for clean-up duty and bangs in the loose puck. Once again, the Lightning coughed up a 2-0 lead and now find themselves in the middle of a tied game.
The rest of the period was a nail-biter. Tampa and Boston were desperately trying to win, both exchanged chances and spent most of the period scrambling to get a goal. This is where Rask and Vasilevskiy show their skill, playing a solid game facing plenty of shots each. One thing that stands out, Tampa is firing whatever they can on net. Finally, they’re able to break through as Yanni Gourde comes down the left wing, firing it at Rasks’s left pad leaving a rebound wide open for Tyler Johnson who swoops in and buries it. That’s the game.
Boston, now that they’ve lost both round-robin match-ups they will no longer be eligible to claim the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They fought hard in this game but were unable to come away with a victory, after getting stomped out 4-1 by the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ll be a team to watch for sure, they might not turn it on until the start of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay has battled in both games and have come out on top in both. We’ll have to see how the rest of the games shake out but they could be looking at taking the number one seed in the east. The main cause for concern for them is that in back-to-back games they’ve coughed up a two-goal lead heading into the third. The Lightning will need to be able to lock-it down and protect their lead. Specifically, their defense needs to clear pucks out of the crease as soon as possible, most of the goals have come from tap-ins that should have been cleared out.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Yanni Gourde
⭐️⭐️ – Alex Killorn
⭐️ – Tyler Johnson
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Torey Krug
⭐️⭐️ – David Pastrnak
⭐️ – Chris Wagner