NHL Playoff Game Night: 8-26-20 Lightning v Bruins

Lightning power play springs to life as Lightning seize control in the series.

TB-7
BOS-1

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the win. He wrapped himself in the soft embrace of a cuddly blanket of goal support.

First Period
12:46 TB Palat (2), (Sergachev, Kucherov)(PP)
13:01 TB Gourde (3), (Coleman, Cernak)

Second Period
2:14 TB Sergachev (1), (Kucherov, Point)(PP)
4:56 BOS Marchand (7), (Krug, Pastrnak)(PP)
8:35 TB Killorn (3), (Palat, Kucherov)(PP)
15:23 TB Point (6), (Killorn, Sergachev)
18:01 TB Killorn (4), (Gourde, Bogosian)

Third Period
3:58 TB Kucherov (4), (Point)

Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and Mikhail Sergachev were the game's three stars.

If the Lightning have found a sustainable, functioning power play this series may be all over but the crying. I didn't think the Lightning came out all that strongly in the First Period after a pretty terrible opening power play that seemed to suck the energy out of them. Second power play, though, Halak let Palat score on a one timer from a somewhat lower percentage spot pretty far out at the RW circle and then the Lightning caught a break with a linesman picking a defender for a Gourde breakaway goal and the Lightning are up 2-0 against the run of play and the rout was on.

From there, the Lightning power play got rolling and the cumulative effect of their depth on a back-to-back night just wore Boston out completely. The Bruins teased getting back into it at 3-1 with a power play marker (stay out of the box, please) but they, as an essentially one line team, never mustered much of a serious threat to get any closer after that. They didn't have the horses or the juice. Alex Killorn's rebound goal on the power play chased Halak (4 goals on 16 shots, not great), albeit a delayed chase. I think Cassidy thought the backup Vladar might be a good candidate for one of those young goalie lightning in a bottle series-changing moments, but Brayden Point's breakaway goal welcomed him to soul crushing realities of the NHL as the goals continued to pile up. The cavalry ain't comin' Cassidy. Halak's all you've got, and he ain't been great. By the time Kucherov had poked a 2-on-1 goal through Vladar's five hole that looked like a training camp/Harlem Globetrotters special from the two stars, I half expected Vladar to get up and say, "um, maybe this NHL thing's just not for me after all." Poor young man was hung out to dry by an exhausted Bruins D against some very skilled players and was made to look very foolish as a result.

To go a step further, although I don't want to take the spotlight off Tampa Bay's fine performance, I thought Cassidy completely booted it with the last change advantage in this game. Boston had a matchup with the Marchand line against the Cirelli line that was paying out like a winning lottery ticket, but the Bruins either could not or just did not want to make that matchup tonight and it really allowed the Lightning to be even more effective at 5's and choke the life out of the Bruins. Indeed, tonight was the first night I think you can honestly say that the Lightning's staff completely outcoached the other team's to a clear degree.

Here's where the Lightning can do a lot to advance their championship ambitions. Boston has to throw the kitchen sink out in Game Four to try to avoid falling back 3-1 in the series. Just like against Columbus, the Lightning have an opportunity to shorten this series and save energy and avoid the potential for injuries in the process if they come out with a high energy level and take care of business Friday. Stay out of the box. Scramble your D zone faceoffs against Bergeron. Keep forechecking that Boston defense into the dirt. You started to see the effects of it for the first time tonight. The Lightning got them out in that deep water and they started to drown. Don't let up and throw them a life preserver.

Speaking of which, Tampa Bay won 55% of their draws tonight. If the Lightning are holding their own in special teams and in the faceoff circles, Boston is so very doomed.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.