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.