NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-4-18 Lightning at Bruins

Lightning weather the storm, rain down the thunder on Boston in OT.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-3 (OT)

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1

Andrei Vasilevsiy allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the OT victory. Still don't think we've seen the full array of what he's capable of, and maybe that should give us all some comfort. He's due to get hot any time now.

First Period
4:36 TB Point (3), (unassisted)
9:53 TB Kucherov (6), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)
15:28 BOS Pastrnak (6), (Krug, Marchand)(PP)

Second Period
2:04 BOS Bergeron (5), (Krug)(PP)

Third Period
6:36 BOS Bergeron (6), (Marchand)(SH)
12:56 TB Stamkos (3), (Miller)

3:18 TB Girardi (2), (Killorn, Gourde)

Dan Girardi was the game's first star.

You had to know Boston was going to play desperate in this one and give the Lightning their best punch. This wasn't the Picasso that Game Three was. There were times (the Second Period) when it hardly qualified as Dogs Playing Poker. In the end, though, the Lightning grinded out a playoff road win by any means necessary, and they overcame a fair measure of adversity along the way to get there. The First Period was surprisingly flat for the Bruins, going down 2-0 early in what really appeared to be an extension of Game Three with the Lightning's speed running afoul of Boston at even strength. Boston's expected best punch didn't come until the Second Period when they outshot Tampa Bay 14-4 and eventually equalized the game. That period may have been Boston's best of this series, outside of the debacle in the Third Period in Tampa in Game One. Tampa Bay got back on their horse in the Third Period only to surrender a lead goal to the Bruins shorthanded. Things looked bleak until a borderline play by Kucherov on the forecheck created a turnover that the slumbering Steven Stamkos blistered past Rask on the one-timer, and we were headed to Overtime. In the extra session, Tampa Bay was under heavy duress early with Boston knowing they needed a quick winner with Krug out injured (ankle/foot) and down to 5 d-men. They weathered a couple of tough shifts by Boston and then started to apply some forecheck of their own to manufacture a greasy goal by Dan Girardi, of all people, and the Lightning are on the precipice of advancing to the Eastern Conference Final (and retiring, mercifully, Rene Rancourt forever).

Boston's faithful will surely flog the fact that Stamkos' goal resulted from an uncalled hold by Nikita Kucherov on the forecheck. Yes, it could've been a call. So could the hook that was put on Kucherov on a breakaway late in the Third Period, as well. I'm amazed that the national hockey media and fans are somehow surprised at the phenomenon of refs swallowing their whistles in the final ten minutes of playoff games. It's only been that way since the dawn of time.

And, to be blunt, nobody from Boston or their water carriers on Bruins Pravda (NBCSN) has the right to lecture anyone about officiating or justice when they continue to look the other way when Brad Marchand does things like he did tonight with an uncalled low bridge hit on Ryan Callahan that he followed up by licking Ryan Callahan on the nose in a resulting scrum. This is a player who, you'll recall, bit a linesman in Game Two. So do you get to lecture us about officiating or justice? Um, no. Brad Marchand should've been suspended after Game Two and he should've been kicked out of the game in Game Four. Point blank. And, if he was wearing a Lightning jersey and not vice versa, we all know he probably would have been. The league, its officials, the national media, and Bruins fans continue to coddle this psychopath and if he played in most any other city in the league he'd have been Sean Avery'ed a long time ago.

Game Five the Lightning have a glorious opportunity to complete the impressive task of getting through the first two rounds in just 10 games, minimizing attrition and maximizing the conservation of energy that will be needed for the heavy lifting yet to come. And, in Tampa Bay, Jon Cooper will have the opportunity to play with the shiny new toy he was given in Boston now that he'll have last change. Specifically, he knows he can spot the Point line against the Krejci line on and off throughout the game and anytime that matchup came up in Game Three and Game Four the Point line absolutely dominated the matchup and created several goals. Between that and the very real possibility Krug isn't coming back in this series, Sunday has an opportunity to be quite a day in Lightning history.

P.S. Did you see those two laser one-timer goals, Lightning fans? Stop with the hand-wringing about Kucherov and Stamkos. They're going to be fine.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 12:35. He was also 36% on 11 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.