NHL Playoff Game Night: 8-31-20 Bruins v Lightning

In the deep waters of double OT, Victor Hedman finally drowned the Boston Bruins.

TB-3 (2OT)

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-1

Andrei Vasilevkiy allowed 2 goals on 47 shots for the victory. The difference between this being a short series and this being a razor thin difficult series was goaltending. We'll never know how Boston would've fared with Rask between the pipes, but Vasilevskiy ultimately was the difference maker in Game Four and Game Five that put this series on ice.

First Period

Second Period
4:21 TB Palat (5), (Shattenkirk, Coleman)
12:38 BOS Pastrnak (3), (Krejci, Bergeron)(PP)

Third Period
12:03 TB Cirelli (2), (Hedman, Point)
17:27 BOS Krejci (4), (Chara, Clifton)


Double Overtime
14:10 TB Hedman (5), (Shattenkirk, Point)

Victor Hedman and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.

My thought on this series was always that Boston's lack of depth was their Achilles heel and that the Lightning would eventually wear them out and finish them off. I did not expect that scenario to play out even under the adverse conditions that occurred tonight with Nikita Kucherov getting hurt in the Second Period and the Lightning being forced to play a game with just 10 forwards. For a time it looked like the script might be flipped on the Lightning with a numerically deeper Bruins team capable of tilting the ice, and they did that for about a 20 minute swath of play between midway through the Third Period and halfway through the first OT. After that, though, I could not believe what I saw as the Lightning really kind of took over the game for the final 24 minutes or so of play. The Lightning's forwards, to their eternal credit (and partly thanks to a very good puckmoving backline that supported them really well) managed to tilt the ice on the Bruins and eventually Boston wilted to the point Hedman finally finished them off. It's the script I expected at the beginning of the series, but not the way I expected it. Tampa Bay actually caught Boston is expected 5v5 goals by the end of the game and missed catching them in overall expected goals by a hair (3.82 to 3.78). That's just remarkable considering 10 forwards.

Kudos to NBCSN, btw, for throwing an Irish wake for the Bruins instead of giving credit to the Lightning for what they accomplished. If you're keeping score at home, between our 2018 playoff series and this one, the Lightning are 8-2 against the mighty Bruins. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it NBCSN, Jack Edwards, and any other media who refuses to accept that Boston is a structurally flawed one line team who can't match up to what Tampa Bay has built.

The next series is a different beast, with the New York Islanders looking like they may well be the opponent. The Isles are like Columbus on steroids, albeit possibly without the red hot goaltender. That series is going to require all hands on deck for Tampa Bay, so at this hour we live in hope Kucherov is just nicked up and will be ready to go for Game One. Tampa Bay is halfway up the mountain, but this year there's no doubt the bigger challenges are closer to the summit.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.