NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-2-18 Lightning at Bruins

Eye opening victory from a resolute Lightning team puts Bruins on their heels.

Eastern Conference Semifinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of work, but when a handful of key situational saves were needed he sure as heck made them. He's starting to climb into this series now and assert himself.

First Period
1:47 TB Palat (3), (Johnson, Stralman)
3:19 TB Palat (4), (Hedman, Girardi)
14:12 BOS Bergeron (4), (Pastrnak, Nash)(PP)
16:43 TB Cirelli (1), (Gourde, McDonagh)

Second Period

Third Period
19:18 TB Stamkos (2), (Miller, Hedman)(PP)(EN)

Ondrej Palat, Vasilevskiy, and Ryan McDonagh were the game's three stars.

That was eye opening. Certainly not what I expected. There was a lot made about the scene shifting to Boston and the Bruins' ability to get the Bergeron line away from the checking of the Point line. It backfired, because the Point line feasted early and often against the Krejci line. It was such a squash Boston had to eventually concede the matchup and move the Bergeron line back on the Point line. It's the only threesome that the Bruins have that skate well enough to nullify what that line does. The problem is, if those two lines cancel the Lightning clearly have the depth advantage. Even with the top Stamkos line lacking effectiveness, the third and fourth lines have a clear quality advantage thus far in the series. And there's the conundrum for the Bruins. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

The other big takeaway from the night was the Lightning really coming into their own defensively as 5-man units. Boston couldn't even get through the neutral zone at key moments of the game and the Lightning were super efficient at moving the puck out of their own zone. Some Bruins fans were even booing their team in frustration as the Lightning continued to choke the life out of their attack. The Bruins coaching staff will make adjustments to get through the neutral zone better, but what you saw tonight was a stunning display of offensive power from a team that didn't do much of that the second half of the regular season.

The Lightning just accomplished what they came to do in Boston. Now they're playing with the house's money going into Game Four. Steal that one and they've got a shot to shorten this series, surprisingly, and set themselves up in a really nice position moving forward. Expect Boston's best shot, though, so Vasilevskiy's going to need to be big for the Lightning to pull the next encounter out.

Anthony Cirelli had his first NHL playoff goal and was +1 with 5 shots in 11:44. He was also 17% on 6 draws. Should've had a second goal after being pulled down chasing a loose puck on a break with an empty net in front of him. He was excellent tonight, even filling some extra shifts with Cedric Paquette serving an extended penalty for a fight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.