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The Boston Bruins finished off the Tampa Bay Lightning with a thrilling 1-0 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the series now in the books, we take a look back with Charlie Blackwell of SB Nation Tampa Bay.
Tim Thomas has been at the forefront of the Boston Bruins' postseason surge, recording 24 saves and his second shutout of the 2011 playoffs (third career in the postseason) in his latest gem against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at TD Garden.
"This is a great moment," Thomas said. "There's no doubt about it. When's the last time Boston's been to the Stanley Cup finals? Twenty-one years. It's been a long time for Boston, it's been a long journey for me to get here. Now, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. There's more work to be done. Unfortunately, that's the way it is. You can't ever be too happy for too long until you're the last man standing." (via WEEI)
Thomas, who has 560 saves on 603 shots (43 GA, 2.29 GAA) this postseason, will look to lead the Bruins to a Game 1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals opener on Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
For more Boston Bruins coverage, visit our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.
Nathan Horton, who sent the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1990 with his goal in their 1-0 win over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, has proven himself to be a great acquisition.
Nathan Horton, welcome to immortality. Horton scored the game-winning goal at 12:27 of the third period, sending the Boston Bruins to a 1-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at TD Garden.
Boston will be making its first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1990, when they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in five games. The Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972.
Horton's score was assisted by David Krejci and Andrew Ference. Boston had 38 shots in the game while allowing 24 shots for Tampa Bay. The Bruins won 35 of 61 faceoffs and both teams had 23 hits and 17 blocked shots.
Tim Thomas was masterful in net, recording 24 saves in the shutout. Dwayne Roloson was very solid in goal for Tampa Bay, finishing with 37 saves on 38 attempts, but the one goal he allowed cost his team the series.
For more Boston Bruins coverage, visit our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.
Two periods down, one to go. However, neither the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning have been able to find the back of the net through 60 minutes in Game7 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.
Boston holds a commanding 29-17 advantage in shots through the first two periods while winning 25 of 41 faceoffs. Tampa Bay has 19 hits to Boston's 17 and both teams have 15 blocks in the game.
Teddy Purcell leads the Lightning with three shots on goal through two periods.
Several reporters indicated on Twitter that Stamkos returned to the Lightning bench midway through the second period wearing a full cage on his helmet.
The Bruins outshot the Lightning, 15-9, in the opening period and won nine of 17 faceoffs. Tampa Bay had 12 hits in the Period to Boston's 10 while each team recorded eight blocks in the period.
Tim Thomas was solid in the period as well, turning away nine shots. Andrew Ference had a team-leading three shots in the first period while Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley each recorded two shots.
Bergenheim, who participated in the pregame skate, suffered an undisclosed lower body injury in Game 5 and did not play in Game 6 of the series.
Before suffering the injury, Bergenheim led all players with nine goals in the playoffs. In the regular season, Bergenheim finished with 14 goals and 15 assists totaling 29 points for Tampa Bay.
In the Boston Bruins' four game sevens prior to their defeat of Montreal just a month ago, they were winless. Prior to that, the team had won six consecutive game sevens. Only once in their history have the Bruins not had a streak - either winning or losing - in game sevens (in 1971 they lost to Montreal in the quarterfinal round, continuing a streak of four straight game seven losses, and in their next game seven they beat Los Angeles, in the 1976 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. In 1979, they again lost to Montreal in a game seven, starting a streak of two straight game seven losses).
While the hated Canadiens have factored in eight of the Bruins' 20 game sevens, Montreal is but a memory now - but one these Bruins hope isn't too distant that they can't learn from the experience and start a new winning streak in game sevens, this time against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning, meanwhile, have not lost a game seven in their history (3-0), also winning a game seven in the first round this year against Pittsburgh. It's a Tampa Bay team that's never lost a series in which it won the first game (also 3-0), and one that figures to be beyond prepared to face the Bruins.
Of Boston's soon-to-be 21 game sevens, 17 have come at home. It's a situation, then, that this team is familiar with; they've hosted four game sevens at TD Garden in the last three years alone.
Much has been made of the fact that Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson is 7-0 lifetime in games in which his team could have been eliminated from the playoffs. What's more noteworthy, perhaps, is that not a single player on the Tampa Bay roster has lost more game sevens than he's won. In fact, only Simon Gagne and Matthias Ohlund have lost any game sevens at all. On the other side, only Mark Recchi, Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle - yes, that Tomas Kaberle - have won more game sevens than they've lost.
All that said, throw the numbers away. It's one game for the right to play Vancouver for the Stanley Cup. There are no guarantees. Numbers mean nothing. Momentum does, and Tampa has it - an early goal by Boston could offset that - and needs to, because the memories from last year's game seven against Philadelphia aren't exactly paved over yet, and the Garden crowd could turn on the team in a heartbeat if they get down early.
The NHL has been telling us for months now that history will be made. Tonight at TD Garden, that's a sure thing. What kind of history remains to be seen.
The Boston Bruins have five power plays in Wednesday night's Game 6 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They scored just one goal in those chances. Conversely, the Lightning scored three PP goals given their five chances. And while Boston struggling to score on the power play is nothing new this postseason, neither is Tampa's penalty-killing, which is one of the best in the league.
After killing all but one of five penalties during their 5-4 Game 6 victory at the Forum on Wednesday, the Lightning have now killed off 72 of 78 shorthanded situations for a 92.3 kill percentage that ranks second overall in the league.
"I've said it many times: our team pays the price a lot," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said of his penalty killers. "That's why we're here. If we were relying on our skills, we'd have never come close to being here.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum is Boston's unit, which Ryan Durling says should be the Bruins' biggest concern heading into Friday night's Game 7.
But what should concern Boston is that their penalty kill - which had held the wicked talented Lightning power play to just two goals in five games over the course of the series - was a no-show, allowing Tampa to score on their first three power play chances.
Tampa Bay started the third period with 1:06 remaining on Andrew Ference's cross-checking penalty, and the Lightning did with it exactly what they'd done with the other chances, when the Boston defense collapsed and Steven Stamkos got free at the left face-off dot, one-timing a shot off the crossbar and in, giving Tampa a 4-2 lead.
The Bruins didn't seem to have any legs to respond with by that point, and Tampa was all-too-happy to continue to wear away at their opposition in advance of Friday's impending game seven.
The Bruins struggled to generate any offense in wake of Stamkos' goal, and didn't get a shot on net in the first until over a minute into Vincent Lecavalier's hooking penalty, when Nathan Horton found David Krejci in front of the net on the power play and Krejci dumped it into an open side to make it a one-goal game.
It didn't last long, though, as Johnny Boychuk got caught pinching on the very next shift and Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos executed a perfect 2-on-1, with Stamkos getting Tim Thomas out of the net and feeding it to St. Louis, who tapped it into a wide open net.
But while the Bruins looked dead in the water early in the period, David Krejci wouldn't let his team quit. He threaded a pass from Milan Lucic between Roloson's legs with 6:32 to play in the period to earn himself a hat trick and his team a chance to even the game up.
A flurry of Bruins activity followed the Krejci goal, but it was not to be as Roloson stood tall and the Lightning forced a game seven Friday night in Boston.
SOG Boston 5 (19) Tampa 9 (26)
Goals Boston: Krejci (2, 9), PPG: Horton, Kaberle, 9:46; Krejci (3, 10): Lucic, Kaberle, 13:28. Tampa: Stamkos (6), PPG: Brewer, St. Louis, 0:34; St. Louis (2, 10): Downie, Stamkos, 10:15.
Penalties: Boston: 6:58: Kaberle, Interference. Tampa: 8:12: Lecavalier, Hooking
The winner of the second period has won three of the five games in this series, so it makes sense that both Boston and Tampa felt like they had to give a big effort in the middle frame of game six.
The Lightning started the second period with the same push they made in the first, but Tim Thomas continued to keep the rubber from getting past him and the Bruins' counter-attack held and made Dwayne Roloson do some work early.
Tyler Seguin wasn't doing anything but skating his responsibility when he caught Victor Hedman's stick in the mouth just a couple minutes in. It wasn't a penalty that Guy Boucher could dispute, but it was one that his team killed well, preventing the Bruins from setting up in the attacking zone and, perhaps more importantly, protecting their goaltender from facing any wrist shots.
Once back to full strength, Tampa put the heat back on, getting the puck deep and forcing Tim Thomas to work behind screens, but the Flint, Michigan native responded, continuing to stop everything he saw. Tampa's successful screening did create a few choice rebounds, but because the Lightning's forwards were too focused on the cycle, they weren't in position to convert them into goals.
A strong shift by the David Krejci line created a number of chances for the Bruins, but Boston was reluctant to take chances with the puck and wound up skating around with it more than they needed to.
When Tampa was able to stack the Bruins back in their own zone, a Dennis Seidenberg cross-checking penalty put the Lightning on the power play and it took them less than 20 seconds to make it count, when Martin St. Louis converted one of those rebounds after Thomas had lost his stick.
The Bruins answer was to quickly create a power play chance of his own, as Eric Brewer was helpless against a Milan Lucic forecheck and went for interference. The Bruins power play created some looks, the best of which was when Michael Ryder pulled the puck out of a scrum and tried to lift it, but wound up shooting it right into Roloson's chest.
After four unsuccessful power plays and an even more unsuccessful penalty kill, the Bruins were looking like they'd left Tampa after special teams chances all series - deflated.
But Tampa, content to play the role of bully, wasn't done, kicking Boston while they were down. The Bruins had spent 90 seconds doing an excellent job killing a Rich Peverley interference penalty, but Teddy Purcell was left alone at the bottom of the right left face-off circle and Thomas wasn't able to get his body in position to stop Purcell's wrister that gave Tampa the lead back.
Thomas was obviously upset after the goal, which he had with his blocker but still let it get in between his arm and body, slamming his stick on the ice.
Frustration started to mount as the period wound down, with Tampa generating more chances and getting in Tim Thomas' face much more than anyone in a white sweater wanted to see. Andrew Ference went to the box late in the period for cross-checking Steven Stamkos in front of the Boston net, and the Bruins responded by getting a partial break with Patrice Bergeron leading the way into the Tampa zone, but they weren't able to get the puck to the net before Tampa got back defensively.
Tampa (7-0) hasn't lost when leading after two; Boston (0-6) hasn't won in the playoffs when trailing.
SOG Boston 6 (14) Tampa 12 (16)
Goals: Tampa: St. Louis (9), PPG from Lecavalier and Stamkos, 7:55, Purcell (6), PPG from Downie and Clark, 13:35.
Penalties: Tampa: 1:52 Hedman, High-Sticking; 8:03 Brewer, Interference. Boston: 7:39: Seidenberg, Cross-Checking; 11:52: Peverley, Interference; 19:05: Ference, Cross-Checking.
On the Lightning's first attacking zone faceoff, Vincent Lecavalier won the draw back to Teddy Purcell who beat a screened Tim Thomas to the weak side and Tampa had the hot start it wanted, up 1-0 just 36 seconds in.
The Bruins answered with strong shifts by the Krejci and Rich Peverley lines, but Dwayne Roloson was solid when he needed to be early, despite almost handing a rebound to Nathan Horton in the low slot after Milan Lucic blasted a slapshot into the Tampa netminder's pads.
With Tampa struggling to create any sort of consistent backcheck, it was only a matter of time before the Bruins would get back in it, however, and get back in it they did when Milan Lucic got behind the 1-3-1 and used Victor Hedman as a screen, beating Roloson with a high slapshot.
It was exactly the kind of shot that's troubled the 41-year old Tampa goaltender all series, but it owed entirely to how the Bruins set up their attacking pass; Johnny Boychuk stopped a Tampa dump from getting deep and found Horton on the wall at center ice who hit Lucic in stride, returning Lucic's favor from the first goal Boston scored in game five.
When Ryan Malone went to the box for tripping Patrice Bergeron at 7:36 of the period, the Bruins power play went to work - it didn't generate any offense on the board, but held Tampa's killers in their own end for almost the full two minutes, ultimately drawing an icing infraction on the Lightning, leading Guy Boucher to call his team's lone timeout barely halfway through the first period. That's the sort of thing that's come back to haunt teams in the past.
After an uneventful five minutes that included a Boston power play which generated exactly zero shots, Tampa turned the puck over at their own blue line and it was Brad Marchand who found Krejci gaining the attacking zone. Krejci, with all the space and time in the world, roofed the puck over Roloson's shoulder to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
Guy Boucher will no doubt lament the two minor penalties against his team heading into intermission, but the fact remains that Boston was the better team for 20 minutes. They'll need to do it for 40 more to get a shot at Vancouver and Lord Stanley's hardware.
Boston outshot Tampa in a period for the first time in recent memory; it's worth noting that the Bruins are 2-3 in the playoffs when outshooting their opponents.
SOG: Boston 8 Tampa 4
Goals: Boston, Lucic (3) from Horton and Boychuk, 7:09; Krejci (8) from Marchand, 16:30. Tampa, Purcell (5) from Lecavalier, 0:36
Penalties: Tampa: 7:36 Ryan Malone, Tripping; 13:17: Eric Brewer, Tripping.
The franchise's first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. That's what the Boston Bruins will be looking to secure Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bruins dropped the series opener before winning three of the next four games against the Lightning, including Monday night's Game 5, a 2-1 victory that felt even closer than that, and was saved -- literally -- by the stick of Tim Thomas.
Although a win Wednesday night would mean the Bruins' first Stanley Cup Finals in 21 years, the team is remaining focused on the task at hand: beating the Lightning in Game 6.
"Obviously, you know that whoever goes through this series is going to play Vancouver, but at the same time, we don't know who's going through," rookie forward Brad Marchand said. "If we start thinking that it's us, then Tampa's going to come back and take over control of the series. We have to make sure we don't worry about that and just worry about our game."
Game 6 between the Bruins and Lightning begins at 8 p.m. ET and will air on Versus.
When the Eastern Conference Finals continue with Game 6 Wednesday night in Tampa, the Bruins will be facing a new net-minder. Lightning head coach Guy Boucher announced on Tuesday that his starting goalie will be Dwayne Roloson, replacing Mike Smith, who took the Game 5 loss.
"I felt that giving a little breather to Roli, a bit like Vancouver did with (Roberto) Luongo (in the first round), and Luongo came back and they have been winning since,'' Boucher said. "It's a decision I don't regret at all. I've done it in the past and it worked. I've had it done against me and it worked. And I think it's the same for Vancouver and it worked.''
Roloson was in the net for all of the Lightning's previous 15 playoff games, posting a 9-5 record. He started the first four games against the Bruins, but was just 1-2 while allowing 13 goals. He was pulled during Game 4 after surrendering three goals on nine shots. Roloson was also pulled in Game 2.
By the time the first period ended, the Bruins had given Tampa three power-play chances and countless scoring opportunities, being outshot 14-4 over the first 20 minutes.
But while Gagne took advantage of his early chance - a turnover at the Tampa blue-line by David Krejci that led to a 2-on-1 with Steven Stamkos against Johnny Boychuk - the Lightning weren't able to take advantage of the numerous other opportunities that Boston allowed them in the first period.
When the lights came back up for the second act, they paid dearly.
It wasn't quite game two's five-goal period, but two tallies, one by Nathan Horton and another by Brad Marchand - both off of nifty passes from the strong-side wall by their linemates Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron, gave the Bruins what they ultimately wanted - a game five win, and a chance to close the series out in Tampa in game six.
The Bruins weren't great at getting pucks to the net - in the third period, it took them nearly 8:30 to get a shot on goal at all - but when they did, they got what they needed to out of them.
With around nine minutes to play in the game, Steve Downie finished a late hit on Johnny Boychuk, slamming his head into the boards and taking the Bruins' defenseman out of the game. Downie went for boarding, but the Bruins power play was again unable to produce any goals, despite finally using their big bodies down low.
The power play was the most productive effort the Bruins put forth in their five chances on the night, and helped to tip the ice back in their favor after Tampa had produced a very solid effort early in the third period.
Tim Thomas once again came up huge when he needed to be, stopping 33 of 34 shots for Boston, while Mike Smith - who hadn't been tested much in three-plus relief periods in games two and four, stopped 17 of 19 shots he faced for Tampa Bay.
When Tampa struggled to clear their own zone late in the game, Mike Smith wasn't able to get off the ice for the extra attacker.
Rich Peverley potted an empty-netter at 19:47 of the third to ice the game away.
The Bruins began the second period by killing the Tampa Bay power play, but only a minute after it ended, Nathan Horton was back in the box, this time for slashing. The Bruins killed that penalty, too, and were able to get their top line back on the ice.
The goal was the impetus that the Bruins needed to start moving their legs, and start moving their legs they did. Predictably, the open game created a few more chances for Tampa to get pucks on the net, but in the minutes following the Horton marker, Tim Thomas was strong between the pipes.
The rest of the period unfolded much more like a playoff game, with each team trading chances back and forth. Neither Boston nor Tampa Bay were really able to generate any consistency with the puck, however, in spite of two Tampa penalties that put Boston on nearly successive 4-on-3 and 5-on-4 power plays.
When the Bruins returned to full strength, however, Patrice Bergeron was back to his old tricks. After Zdeno Chara opened space on the goal line by winning a battle in the corner, Bergeron swooped in and found Brad Marchand streaking to the net behind Steven Stamkos and threaded him the puck for an easy tap-in that gave Boston its first lead in the series in over 60 minutes.
The Bruins' woes in the neutral zone and their own end spelled their undoing in game four, and at the beginning of the first period, it was as if nothing had changed.
A turnover at the Tampa blue line by David Krejci led to an early odd-man rush for Tampa, and Johnny Boychuk's inability to get in Simon Gagne's way gave the Lightning winger the game's opening tally on his team's first shot.
With Mike Smith starting in net for Tampa, the Bruins continued to struggle early to get good looks at the net.
After the two teams traded penalties, there was no change in score. The Bruins got great work from Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille to save Tyler Seguin's bacon after he tripped Dominic Moore, but Boston wasn't able to turn it into any momentum in the attacking zone.
The Milan Lucic - Krejci - Nathan Horton line continued its disappearing act, registering no shots and a combined minus-three in the opening 20 minutes.
After Andrew Ference went to the box for cross-checking Steven Stamkos on a partial breakaway, the Lightning still weren't able to capitalize on the man-advantage, but generated a lot of energy getting the puck low and passing in and out of the Boston defense.
The Bruins' legs, heart, heads and hands were all absent in the first period, which was shocking after the Black and Gold were embarrassed on Saturday afternoon.
When Smith lost his stick during a Bruins' possession late in the period, Krejci closed in on the vulnerable netminder and took Marc-Andre Bergeron off his skates with a high hit that was the first time the TD Garden crowd got to its feet.
The hit helped the Bruins generate some momentum in the closing minutes of the period, but a blatant interference penalty by Horton tipped the ice back in the Lightning's favor. The Bruins killed the first 50 seconds of the penalty, but they'll have another 1:10 to kill off to start the second, a period in which they need to reach back and find something or else they'll risk this being the last home game they play all year.
Tampa outshot the Bruins 14-4 in the period.
As if there weren't enough subplots heading into a pivotal game five, now both Claude Julien and Guy Boucher have to figure out who is and isn't playing as the series returns to Boston tied up after the Lightning handed the Bruins a stunning come-from-behind 5-3 defeat in game four.
Julien's said that Kaberle's in, saying that anyone who "knows the game well enough" would keep him in the lineup. As for the Seguin-Thornton issue, he's been far less committal.
"Tyler really played well here the first two games, he certainly didn’t play bad in Tampa, but he didn’t have the same impact," the Boston coach said during his pre-game media address.
As for the most compelling fight for a roster spot, Guy Boucher hasn't said who's starting in net tonight for his team, but all signs point to it being Roloson, despite having allowed 11 goals in his last four-plus periods.
But when the puck drops, who isn't on the ice is going to matter little. Expect Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier to improve their games after being held off the score sheet - save a St. Louis empty net goal at the end of game four - in their two games in Tampa. Don't be surprised if Roloson struggles again, and certainly don't be surprised if he's only allowed one bad goal before getting the hook in favor of Smith, who's yet to allow a Boston goal in three-plus periods this series.
Meanwhile, look for David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic to be a bigger presence than they were in game four - not hard, considering the line combined for 2 shots and a combined minus-five in the game. Tampa's defense continues to be suspect, and a strong Bruins' forecheck should be able to force some turnovers and create chances early on.
If the Bruins do get a lead early, don't expect them to take their foot off the gas; they did that in game four and it's safe to say that they learned their lesson for it.
"If you lose five-one or you lose in overtime in the playoffs, a loss is a loss and you have to put that aside. And you have to move on and you can’t carry that baggage with you," Julien said.
The Bruins have lost back-to-back games only once since mid-March, and just three times since the trade deadline. Sure, that once was at the very beginning of the playoffs, but everyone in the team, from the players to the coaches to the front office, admitted that they had nerves heading into the playoffs.
Tim Thomas continues to be strong the game after struggling, and it's certain that he's going to want to play his best game this year on Monday night, especially after letting it slip to the media that he thinks the Bruins will win the series.
But the Bruins will need production from deep to get a 3-2 lead in the series. Either the Seguin-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder line will come up big or the defense will find a way to get involved in the offense and make a difference, or the Bruins will head to Tampa with their heads down, playing once again for the right to continue their season.
Boston built a 3-0 lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning after the first period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday afternoon, but the B's couldn't handle their own success, blowing the lead and ultimately losing 5-3 at St. Pete Times Forum.
It wasn't a mystery why the Bruins lost, either, as they simply stopped trying for a matter of time until it was too late. Boston goalie Tim Thomas put it best, telling the media that his team was simply outworked by Tampa Bay.
"We got outworked," Thomas said. "They took over, they outplayed us, they started getting scoring chances and we stopped getting scoring chances. (via WEEI)
Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice in the first period, had a similar viewpoint.
"It was perfect first period," Bergeron said. "We stopped battling, we stopped being hard on the forecheck which is what gave us success in the first period. in the second, we sat back, they have too much speed and too much firepower up front to do that." (via WEEI)
The best-of-seven series, which is no tied 2-2, resumes on Monday night in Boston.
Simon Gagne netted the game-winner 6:54 into the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning erased an early 3-0 lead and defeated the Boston Bruins, 5-3, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday afternoon at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay, FL.
Tampa started the third period by reverting their 1-3-1 forecheck into a more aggressive 2-1-2 like they used in the opening game of the series, and the Bruins looked completely baffled, getting only one shot on net - off a bad Tampa turnover - in the first eight minutes of the period.
In time, the persistence paid off when Simon Gagne got loose at the bottom of the right face-off circle after Milan Lucic turned the puck over at the blue line, beating Tim Thomas high on the blocker side to give Tampa its first lead since early in the second period of game two. Tomas Kaberle had blocked a shot earlier in the shift, but wasn't able to get off the ice when he wanted to, losing Gagne and giving the Lightning forward the opportunity.
The Bruins answered the goal by bringing the forecheck back, but weren't able to establish long enough possessions in the attacking zone to really wear down Tampa's defense.
The Lightning weren't quick to abandon the forecheck following the Gagne goal, but they packed it in as the period wore on, giving the Bruins the neutral zone but stacking the blueline, causing Boston to revert to dumping and chasing as the period wound down.
As the Bruins' energy increased, so did Mike Smith's good fortune, as the Lightning goaltender continued to wind up in the right spots, even when he gave the puck away to Brad Marchand on the wall. Rarely was Smith forced to scramble and at no point did he look like he was struggling, as the Lightning fell into a shell, preventing the Bruins from getting the game-tying goal, and sending the series back to Boston tied at 2.
After the Bruins failed to convert on a couple early power play chances in the period, another poor clear, this time by the Boston defense, found the puck on Teddy Purcell's stick in the slot, and Purcell beat Thomas to the weak side to make it 3-1.
Just minutes later, Purcell trailed a 3-on-2 and picked up the puck at the top of the face-off circle, blasting it past Thomas to make it a one-goal game.
On the very next shift, Claude Julien put the Patrice Bergeron line back on the ice, and Brad Marchand got his stick high on Steven Stamkos and went to the box. The Bruins killed the penalty, but were unable to match the energy of Tampa after the kill, and Sean Bergenheim got a clean look at the net when Tomas Kaberle abandoned him down low. Bergenheim snuck the puck between Thomas' legs to tie the game.
All period long, Tampa's speed through the neutral zone frustrated the Bruins, who were unable to get the puck into the Lightning's end to establish a forecheck, much less an offensive attack. Miscommunication among the Boston blueliners on their own end of the Tampa blue line led to countless close-range chances for Tampa, which was easily able to get behind the Boston defense.
It was just the kind of letdown that the Bruins were looking to avoid heading into the second period, knowing that they could ice the game away and head back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead. Certainly, they still may, but they'll need to turn the Tampa momentum around just like they did in the first period.
They may be helped by the absence of Steve Downie, who left late in the period after taking a hit from Nathan Horton. Downie went down the tunnel, presumably to the silent room where those who are potentially concussed go, and may not return. The Bolts are already down Dana Tyrell, who had returned to theTampa Bay lineup from an ankle injury, but didn't last long before heading back to the locker room earlier in the game.
Mike Smith still hasn't allowed a goal in the series, after getting time in game two and again this afternoon. The Bruins will need to solve him at least once if they want to have a chance to close out the series in Boston on Monday.
Tim Thomas returned to his usual form in the early moments of game four, flopping and falling all over the ice as Tampa's commitment to increasing traffic in front of the Bruins' netminder was evident.
It was the Gregory Campbell line that generated the best chance in the early going, however, as Dwayne Roloson mishandled a puck in the crease, leaving it free on the edge of the paint with an open side. Campbell fell in front of the puck, however, and Tampa was able to clear.
The frantic pace that defined the first ten minutes of the period didn't slow down as the period settled in, but when Victor Hedman tried to reverse the puck behind his own net in the face of a heavy Bruins' forecheck, Patrice Bergeron intercepted the puck and deposited it between the legs of a stunned Roloson.
Tampa struggled to regroup after the goal, turning the puck over on the breakout a couple times in their next few shifts, one of which almost led to a Campbell goal after Hedman again handed the puck over.
Another mishap in the neutral zone by Marc-Andre Bergeron found the puck on Chris Kelly's stick with inside four minutes to play in the period. Kelly found Michael Ryder, who beat Mike Lundin low and waffled the puck past Roloson.
After Dennis Seidenberg took a penalty for holding the stick, the Lightning tried to set up in the Bruins' zone, but Patrice Bergeron went high and intercepted a pass along the blue line before breaking into the Tampa zone and wristing it high above Roloson's blocker for the third goal of the period.
The goal chased Roloson and Mike Smith came in to replace him. Roloson bolted past Guy Boucher en route to the Tampa locker room with nary a word.
The period ended with gloves dropping everywhere as Tampa crashed the net a little bit too hard at the final horn. Rich Peverley and Marc-Andre Bergeron got five-minute majors for fighting, while Steve Downie received a minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
Tampa Bay outshot Boston, 10-9.
Leading 2-1 in their best-of-seven series, the Boston Bruins will look to deliver the dagger to the title hopes of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday afternoon at St. Pete Times Forum (1:30 p.m. EDT; TV/Radio: NBC/WBZ-FM).
With a win, the Bruins would take a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 series lead heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday evening.
Boston, which has won the last two games of the series after dropping the series opener, has been spurred on by solid goaltending from veteran Tim Thomas, who has made 450 saves on 483 shots (33 goals allowed) in 14 postseason games.
Tyler Seguin has also provided a major boost for the Bruins, totaling three goals and three assists in the series so far. Seguin, who made his NHL Playoff debut in Game 1 of the series, scored one goal and had an assist in the loss.
However, Seguin burst onto the scene in Game 2, finishing with two goals and two assists, but he did not record a single point in Boston's Game 2 victory.
Nathan Horton leads the Bruins in points this postseason with 13 (six goals, seven assists) while Patrice Bergeron, who missed the first two games of the series recovering from a concussion, is second in points with 12 (two goals, 10 assists). David Krejci leads Boston in postseason goals with seven and also has five assists.
Tampa Bay, which had won eight straight playoff games prior to their loss in Game 2, has been led by paced by the solid play of Martin St. Louis, who has seven goals and nine assists in 14 games this postseason.
Vincent Lecavalier also has 16 points on six goals and 10 assists and Teddy Purcell has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) for the Lightning. Sean Bergenheim leads the team in playoff goals with eight and has two assists.
In the regular season, the Lightning boasted a record of 15-11-5 at St. Pete Times Forum while the Bruins were 24-12-5 on the road this season, but has won five of six games on the road in the playoffs.
Even though the Bruins were the victors in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, head coach Claude Julien wasn't all too pleased with his team's sloppy play.
Thursday night's effort was a different story, with the B's clinging to a one-goal lead for most of the game before scoring the second and final goal in the third period, sealing a 2-0 win in Game 3 of the conference finals.
"I think tonight's game probably resembles a lot more of what I think everybody expected from this series, two teams that make it hard for you to score, and I thought our team tonight was very good in regards to that," Julien said. "We made some stronger plays, some better decisions, and seemed a little bit more aware out there of what was going on. So comparing it to last game where I thought it was pretty sloppy, I thought we bounced back well tonight." (via WEEI)
For more on the Bruins, head over to our B's blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.
After the second period lacked any real offensive contingency from Boston or Tampa Bay, the Bruins settled into the Lightning's zone quite comfortably early in the third period, making Dwayne Roloson sweat and exposing the Bolts' lack of backcheck.
Their work culminated when Andrew Ference blasted a shot from the point that deflected off Tyler Seguin's stick and the puck squeezed through Dwayne Roloson's pads, slowly squirming its way into the Tampa net to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead at 8:12 of the third period.
Tim Thomas continued his stellar play and the defense in front of him kept Tampa frustrated in the neutral zone, despite a two-minute stretch in which the Bruins iced the puck three times.
All night long, the Bruins had kept Tampa's crowd quiet, and anytime Tampa was able to get behind the defense, Thomas found a way to stop them. The Bruins' netminder didn't have to make many of his trademark reactionary saves on the night, as the defense cleared the lanes and Thomas had no problem seeing the puck. His counterpart, on the other hand, seemed to struggle when his team needed him to be at his best.
With Boston's attack bearing down on Tampa's defense, Roloson was unable to track the puck, flustered by the Bruins' high shots and had difficulty moving across his crease as the Black and Gold found passing lanes in the middle of Tampa's defense all night.
The Lightning's best-in-the-NHL power play was held silent on three chances, as were their 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 units.
Thomas stopped 31 shots to record his second career playoff shutout, and Boston took back home ice advantage with a very convincing, very typical team victory. With the win, the Bruins improved to 5-1 on the road in the playoffs.
After Boston came out attacking early in the first period, Tampa generated a strong counter-attack but was foiled by Tim Thomas. In the second period, neither team was able to get the offense flowing
Dwayne Roloson continued to look over-taxed in net, struggling to track the puck and especially having difficulty fending off shots that the Bruins were able to get up high. The Bruins had two power play chances that didn't generate any goals, but when Eric Brewer went for hooking Patrice Bergeron late in the period, the Black and Gold were able to work the puck around the attacking zone, cycling well and keeping the puck in for a long period of time, forcing Guy Boucher to call a timeout after his team iced the puck with just over 40 seconds to go in the period.
Tim Thomas was again able to thwart a couple chances by Steven Stamkos, while Roloson was the recipient of some good luck as the Bruins weren't able to finish their odd-man rushes.
Boston continued to attack the Lightning in the neutral zone, gaining the offensive zone without much struggle and forcing Tampa Bay into numerous offsides penalties when the Bolts had the puck.
The Bruins outshot Tampa 12-6 in the period, and are now outshooting the Lightning 20-16. Zdeno Chara leads Boston in time on ice with 19:24, while Brewer leads Tampa with 16:22. Patrice Bergeron has 12:31 of ice time so far, tops among Boston forwards
Milan Lucic took the puck up the half-wall and found a wide open David Krejci on the edge of the crease, hitting the Bruins' number-one pivot with a sharp pass that Krejci used to deke Dwayne Roloson, burying the puck to give Boston an early 1-0 lead at just 1:09 of the first period.
It was the only marker of the first 20 minutes for either time, despite both teams getting chances down low. Rich Peverley whiffed on a turned over puck low in the Tampa zone just moments before Marc-Andre Bergeron caught an unsuspecting Krejci in the neutral zone, dropping the Czech native and drawing an elbowing penalty, the only foul of the period.
The Bruins power play wasn't able to get any offense going, and the Black and Gold headed into intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Roloson looked uneasy in net at times; the Bruins have reverted to making him move laterally and trying to get pucks high to beat the 41-year old netminder, and thus far the tactic has worked. On the other end of the ice, Tim Thomas was sporadic as always, but didn't let anything past.
Patrice Begeron returned to the Bruins lineup, taking the opening faceoff and looking as if he hadn't missed a shift during his time on the schneid while recovering from a concussion. The Bruins defense looks markedly improved from games one and two, where they allowed a combined five first-period goals.
The Bs will need to get the offense going in the second to hold onto this one, though; they've been unable to set up a regular forward cycle, due largely in part to the back-and-forth nature of the period. So far this postseason, Boston is 5-0 when leading after one and 6-0 when scoring first. Then again, Tampa was 8-0 when scoring first before Tuesday night.
Today, without the puck even dropping, it appears they've won another one. Patrice Bergeron, arguably the Bruins' most consistent center, reportedly will return to the lineup for tonight's game three, returning just under two weeks after suffering the third concussion of his career, suffered in game four of the conference semifinals when the Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux laid a hit on him in his own zone.
Everyone who's seen Bergeron practice since the injury has said that he's looked good, using glowing adjectives like "crisp" and "clean" and "strong" and "confident" to describe his appearance. But Bruins fans have reason to be wary; after all, Marc Savard returned from a concussion in an early December game against this same Tampa Bay team that the Bruins won 8-1, but Savard became an anchor after a couple of games back and struggled to find his game before a hit from Matt Hunwick concussed him again, possibly ending his career.
If Bergeron returns and maintains the form he showed prior to the concussion, averaging over a point per game, winning over 60 percent of his faceoffs and making Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand relevant again, the Bruins are in great shape. Shawn Thornton likely heads upstairs, Rich Peverley likely drops to the checking line and the Bruins once again become the deepest team in these playoffs.
Then there's the matter of the kid.
Tampa's stars went off in game two; Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis combined for ten points including four goals in the Bolts' loss. This would normally be a huge area for concern for the Bruins, who managed to shut down Tampa's secondary scoring and hold the heretofore brilliant Sean Bergenheim quiet for almost the first time all postseason. But because Tyler Seguin took the game, his team and the 17,565 at TD Garden by the reins in the second period of that game, Tampa's superstar performance went for naught.
Seguin's back in the projected lineup tonight, playing alongside Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly. Bergeron's back, centering Recchi and Marchand. The big question for the Bruins now isn't the offense, as they can - and will, for better or worse - roll four lines that can forecheck and put the puck in the net. The question is how they'll perform in their own end, where a few atypical errors cost them game one and a completely abysmal effort nearly cost them game two.
Tim Thomas has allowed ten goals in two games - three more than he allowed in the entire series against Philadelphia, twice as many as he allowed in two games against the Montreal Canadiens, both losses by the Black and Gold. It's not been just him, though two goals in particular in this series can be ruled as his error. The defense in front of him has been questionable at best. Johnny Boychuk's been in the wrong place too many times, and has lost his man on a regular basis when he turns to the net; Zdeno Chara hasn't been the physical presence that he'd been earlier in the playoffs and Adam McQuaid just looks frozen when trying to deal with Tampa's speed. To be sure, Dennis Seidenberg continues to improve his game, and even Tomas Kaberle played a strong game two.
Just like the defense struggled with Montreal's speed in the opening-round series, they're a step behind Tampa. They don't need to be perfect, but they need to be better. And so does Thomas.
Since scoring 17 goals in that seven-game, first-round series against Montreal, the Bruins have put 28 pucks behind a goaltender in just six games. The offense is rolling; with Seguin and Bergeron in the lineup tonight, that figures to continue. But if the Bruins want to take home ice back in this series, they need to go back to basics to do it.
Defense wins championships, they say. With Bergeron returning, the blueliners should be able to relax a little bit - the pivot is one of the best two-way forwards in the game, and he makes his entire line more imposing defensively. It's been the trademark of the Black and Gold all year long, and they're not going anywhere unless they find it again. And quickly.
Tampa, after all, was 8-0 in the playoffs when scoring first. The Bruins fought back, scoring only their third power play goal of the playoffs later in the period, but Martin St. Louis scored a pinball goal off the skates of Johnny Boychuk with 6.5 seconds remaining in the period to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead at the first intermission, where they'd also been undefeated with a lead since the playoffs began.
Undefeated, that is, until the wheels fell off in the second period. Tyler Seguin continued his rampant start to the playoffs, netting two goals, including a highlight-reel backhand that evened the score just 53 seconds into the period, before turning into a playmaker and assisting on two Michael Ryder tallies, one of them another power play goal, only Boston's fourth of these playoffs, and their first multi-power play goal game since March 27th.
Add in a tap-in goal from David Krejci, and the Bruins walked off the after 40 minutes with a 6-3 lead that Tampa couldn't quite overcome despite a third-period flourish, as the Bruins took game two to even the series, 6-5.
Nine players in all had multi-point nights, including three from Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, Boston's Nathan Horton and Ryder, and four from the Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier and the Bruins' Seguin.
Tim Thomas stopped 36 shots to preserve the win as Boston's defense was shaky from start to finish, allowing multiple odd-man rushes and breakaways especially early in periods.
Three days ago, Tyler Seguin hadn't played a single minute in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After playing 100 of them in games one and two, he has three goals and three assists, including a beautiful move less than a minute into the second period, splitting two Tampa defenders through the neutral zone and leaving Randy Jones in his wake as he got Dwayne Roloson down and beat him high to open the period's scoring, tying the game at 2.
But he wasn't close to done. After Dennis Seidenberg found David Krejci from across the ice some two minutes later for a Krejci tap-in, Seguin caught a feed from Nathan Horton on a 2-on-1 that he buried high to extend the Bruins' lead to 4-2.
It was at that point that Seguin decided to start sharing the spotlight, getting the primary assist on a Michael Ryder goal that the Newfoundland native took off Roloson's pad and put into the water bottles on top of the net. The power play goal, the Bruins second of the game, marked the first time Boston has scored multiple power play goals since a March 27th game against Philadelphia.
With just 20 seconds remaining in the period, Seguin was again operating with the puck, this time on the left half-wall. Ryder skated into space near the bottom of the right face-off circle and Seguin hit him on the tape. Ryder snapped off a wrister that beat Roloson high to give the Bruins a 6-3 lead heading into intermission.
This was exactly the period the Bruins hadn't played all year - a strong 20 minutes followed by a stronger 20 minutes, and the Garden is loving every minute of it. Seguin's cemented his spot on the roster, one would imagine, and both he and Ryder are a goal away from a hat trick.
The Bruins defense has been doing everything the offense hasn't - that is, excelling. Tim Thomas hasn't been great, but he's been good enough, stopping a couple breakaways in the second to keep the Bruins in control of this one. Expect the Black and Gold to attack for the first 5-8 minutes of this period before going into a shell if they're still up big.
Adam Hall got the puck in deep and got Tim Thomas out of position, depositing the puck off the Boston netminder's backside and into the net to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead just 13 seconds into regulation, but persistence was the order of the day for the Bruins, who finally recorded a power play goal when Nathan Horton deflected a Dennis Seidenberg blast from the point with one second left on the Bruins' third power play of the period.
The Bruins answered the Hall goal with a strong shift by the Chris Kelly line, and another huge offensive possession saw the Bruins make three changes in the attacking zone before Tampa was finally forced to ice the puck. Guy Boucher used his team's lone timeout to give his men a breather and Tampa was able to clear the zone on the ensuing faceoff, negating the Bruins' attack.
Ryan Malone got engaged the wrong way with a couple of Bruins later in the period, putting the Lightning on the kill for most of the second half of the period, but it was Hall's roughing penalty at 11:58 that created a chance for Seidenberg to get a clean look from the point and beat Roloson high. Horton was given credit for the goal, but it looked like it went straight off the corner of the net and in.
Chris Kelly had a chance at an open net after Roloson misplayed the puck just a shift later, but the former Ottawa Senator wasn't able to capitalize.
A Nathan Horton interference minor produced more chances for the Bruins than for the Lightning, who took advantage when Zdeno Chara was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct in conjunction with Steve Downie's roughing minor. Steven Stamkos launched a blind backhand at the net with just seven seconds remaining and it deflected off Johnny Boychuk's skate and in to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room.
The Bruins won the period with physical play, getting bodies to the net and shooting the skin off the puck. To be trailing on the scoreboard after a period like that is demoralizing, but the Black and Gold need to find a way around it and get back in the game before Tampa can extend their lead.
In a four-game sweep over Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Tim Thomas allowed seven Flyers' goals. In just over 57 minutes of ice time in game one of the conference finals against Tampa, he allowed four.
Many point to rust as the reason; after all, Thomas is 37 years old and a week off has been known to slow much sprier a goaltender in playoffs past.
"I don’t [think the time off affected us]. Both teams had the same layoff. We actually came out playing pretty good. They got the first goal because they did the correct things to score a goal in those situations better," said Thomas of the Lightning's early attack in which they scored three goals in 1:25 to build an insurmountable lead, ultimately winning 5-2.
Most goaltenders command a lot of attention from the media. Thomas is no exception. And after Monday's practice, another crowd surrounded him in the locker room asking about his team's preparation for game two, an almost must-win game for the Bs if they hope to have a chance in this series.
But instead of talking about the game, Thomas decided to lead a discussion in current events, noting that hockey is "just a game" and that Israel is under attack "on multiple fronts" and suggesting that maybe, just maybe, his focus wasn't where it should be.
Which is difficult to understand for Bruins fans, many of whom have - literally - waited a lifetime to see their team appear in the Eastern Conference Finals. The urgency the Bruins had played with in their first 11 playoff games was absent in game one, their trademark grit hampered by the lack of Patrice Bergeron in the lineup.
Boston did have an extra dimension with the presence of Tyler Seguin, who had a hand in both goals his team scored Saturday night. But it wasn't nearly enough, and it didn't help that the kid sat for 15 minutes after scoring the team's first goal - and his first career playoff tally - and it seems like head coach Claude Julien is still struggling with how to use the young stud in Bergeron's absence.
The Bruins succeeded in shutting down Tampa's big guns in Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, but were undone by Sean Bergenheim, among others, which has to be a cause for concern for Boston; their top defensemen are able to stop the Lightning's firepower, but it's Tampa's higher-numbered lines that have got the Bolts to this point in the playoffs. With Tomas Kaberle continuing to struggle, the Black and Gold need a defensive shot in the arm to get back in the series.
Of course, they're not likely to have Dennis Seidenberg kicking the puck to the opposing team or Tim Thomas just whiffing on shoulda-been saves, but their inability to get Dwayne Roloson moving laterally - which, at 41, he doesn't do as well as Carey Price did, but probably does quite a bit better than Sergei Bobrovsky or Brian Boucher - is a concern.
The Bruins need to do a better job getting bodies in front of the net and need to fire pucks through the slot to make Roloson think. They need to hit Tampa in the mouth early and beat them on the boards, where they're stronger and bigger and should find success. But perhaps the most important piece of the Bruins' offensive gameplan involves playing into Tampa's hands.
The Lightning, after all, lead the NHL in blocked shots this postseason. They're fearless when it comes to going to the ice, whether on a knee or on their stomach, and have made Roloson's job pretty easy on account of it. The Bruins have at least two defensemen with slapshots that register triple-digits on the radar gun in Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. If Tampa wants to go to the ice, the Bruins' shooters need to make them pay for it - or, at the least, make them think twice about going down.
The Lightning continue to excel on special teams, and the Bruins need to know enough to stay out of the box and force their opponent to kill lots of penalties. Even if Boston can't score on their power plays, they can wear Tampa down by putting them short-handed. Putting Tampa down a man will help the Bruins get position down low and between the circles to set up the cycle, creating looks from in close or forcing Tampa's defense to collapse, thereby opening up looks for the men on the point.
The recipe for success is always easier diagrammer than executed. But these Bruins are the stronger, better team and as long as they don't start flat again, they should be in better shape. How they start comes back to how focused they are. They'll be without Patrice Bergeron again tonight, according to the Globe, which means they'll have to dig down and win some attacking-zone faceoffs, bring a physcial forecheck and win the wall battles that they weren't able to take Saturday night.
For Tim Thomas and the other 18 guys in Black and Gold Tuesday night, the focus has to be on the ice. Not Israel, not Vancouver, not anywhere else. Tampa's no Montreal, and a 2-0 hole in this series will prove impossible to overcome.
Tyler Seguin burst onto the scene in his first playoff game, scoring his first-ever playoff goal at 15:59 of the first period in the Bruins' 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1. What's taken Claude Julien so long to play Seguin in the playoffs?
Boston allowed three goals in one minute and 25 seconds and surrendered two more goals in the third period, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night in Boston.
"I think we could've had a better effort," Julien said. "I think overall, as a team, we're definitely going to need to be better and get a better effort. The rust was even on both sides, as far as time off. You don't want to use rust as an excuse." (via WEEI)
The Bruins will not take to the ice on Sunday, but as their debacle in Game 1 has proven, too much time off can be a bad thing. Boston had eight days between games, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-1, on Friday, May 6 to finish off the sweep before hosting Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Boston hosts Tampa Bay for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins showed the rust early on, giving up three goals in one minute and 25 seconds midway through the first period and the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged with a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Boston had ample opportunity to get back into the game, but failed to convert on all four power play chances in the game. The Bruins were out shot, 34-33, and lost the faceoff battle, 41-26.
Sean Bergenheim put the Lightning on top with his goal at 11:15, and Brett Clark followed it up with a tally of his own at 11:34. Teddy Purcell capped off the scoring barrage for Tampa Bay, finding the back of the net at 12:40 to give his team a commanding 3-0 lead.
Tyler Seguin provided the Bruins with one of their few bright moments in the game, scoring his first career playoff goal in his first postseason game at 15:59 in the opening period (assisted by Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley).
Neither team scored in the second period, and Tampa Bay put the icing on the cake in the third period with goals from Marc-Andre Bergeron at 13:37 and Simon Gange (empty-netter) at 17:29.
Thomas had 27 saves on 31 shots while Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson turned away 31 shots on 33 attempts. Boston hosts Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Despite having three power play opportunities, the Bruins couldn’t convert on any opportunities. Boston had just three shots on net during their power play opportunities, and have a power play conversion rate of 16 percent for the season.
Tampa Bay had two power play opportunities in the period, but they couldn’t solve Tim Thomas, who made 17 saves and now has 20 for the game.
Dwayne Roloson has 19 saves on 20 shots through two period. Tampa Bay has 23 shots through 40 minutes while Boston has registered 20 shots.
Tyler Seguin scored his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game at 15:59 in the first period, trimming Boston’s deficit to two.
Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark and Teddy Purcell all scored one goal each in the span of one minute and 25 seconds to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-0 lead over the Boston Bruins midway through the first period, but Tyler Seguin scored his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game at 15:59 to cut the deficit to 3-1, where it would stay for the remainder of the period of Game 1 at TD Garden.
Bergenheim's goal came at 11:15 and was followed by Clark's tally at 11:34. Purcell capped off the goal-scoring barrage with his score at 12:40.
Tim Thomas struggled through the first period in net for Boston, giving up three goals on 10 shots while turning away seven shots. Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson was solid in the first period, re-routing 11 of 12 shots in net.
Boston barely outshot Tampa Bay in the first period, recording 12 shots to the Lightning's 10. Neither team comitted a penalty in the first period and the Lightning won 12 of 20 faceoffs. Both teams had 10 hits and eight blocked shot.
Adam McQuaid will be in the lineup for the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night (8:00 p.m.; TV/Radio: Versus/WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub).
McQuaid is taking the place of injured center Patrice Bergeron, who suffered from a concussion during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers but skated for the first time since the injury before Boston's morning skate on Saturday.
In nine postseason games, McQuaid has three assists, 10 hits, 13 blocks, seven shots on goal and a plus/minus of plus-4. McQuaid had three goals and 12 assists in 67 regular season game for the Bruins.
McQuaid, who was taken with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the 2005 NHL Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, has played two NHL seasons, both of which were in Boston. In his rookie season in 1009-10, McQuaid had one goal and 17 blocks in 19 games.
It's been 19 long years since the Boston Bruins hosted an Eastern Conference Finals hockey game, but that streak ends on Saturday night. Boston hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the conference finals at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
The B's have been led by strong netminding from 37-year-old Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, who has 354 saves and has allowed 24 goals in 11 games this postseason.
Nathan Horton and David Krejci have provided the offensive firepower for Boston, with each scoring five goals to date in the postseason. Chris Kelly has four goals for the Bruins, who have seven players with two goals in the playoffs.
On the other side of the ice, 41-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson has been equally effective in net for the Lightning, turning away 366 shots while allowing 23 goals in 11 games.
Martin St. Louis has provided the lightning for the Lightning on offense, totaling six goals and seven assists for a team-high 13 points. Vincent Lecavalier has five goals and seven assists (12 points) and Steve Downie has two goals and ten assists (12 points). Sean Bergenheim leads Tampa Bay in postseason goals with seven.
Both teams finished the regular season with records of 46-25-11, and the Bruins won the season series with the Lightning, 3-1. After losing the first game against Tampa Bay, 3-1, on November 22, Boston emerged the victors in the final three meetings, winning 8-1 on December 2, 4-3 on December 28 and 2-1 on March 3.
Boston and Tampa Bay haven't played a hockey game in over seven days entering Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night at 8 p.m. EDT at TD Garden (TV/Radio: Versus/WBZ-FM). How will the long layoff affect them? Read more at Stanley Cup of Chowder.
With the Celtics eliminated, all eyes in Boston will turn to the Bruins, who have the potential for their first Stanley Cup win since 1972. Over the next couple of weeks, fans will have plenty of options to get the latest news and analysis of each game.
The second round the 2011 NHL Playoffs are still ongoing -- the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks are deciding who will advance to face the No. 1 seed Vancouver Canucks, with Game 6 set for Tuesday night (Sharks are up, 3-2) -- but we now know the Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals schedules. The NHL released the full set of days and times for both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals on Tuesday afternoon.
The Boston Bruins, playing in their first conference finals in 19 years, open their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. ET As the better seed, the No. 3 Bruins will have home-ice advantage over the No. 5 Lightning.
Game 1: at Boston -- Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
Game 2: at Boston -- Tuesday, May 17 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
Game 3: at Tampa Bay -- Thursday, May 19 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
Game 4: at Tampa Bay -- Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 p.m. on NBC, TSN
Game 5*: at Boston -- Monday, May 23 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
Game 6*: at Tampa Bay -- Wednesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
Game 7*: at Boston -- Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m. on VERSUS, CBC
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