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NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-11-18 Capitals at Lightning

Flat as a pancake Lightning spot Washington Game One.

Eastern Conference Final

WSH-4
TB-2

Washington Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss before giving way to Louis Domingue, who stopped all 7 shots he faced. Rather than focusing on Vasilevskiy's down night, I'm going to give a lot of credit to Domingue for coming in and making 2-3 key situational saves to help the Lightning win the Third Period and maybe climb into this series.

First Period
7:28 WSH Kempny (1), (Kuznetsov, Carlson)
19:54 WSH Ovechkin (9), (Kuznetsov, Oshie)(PP)

Second Period
2:40 WSH Beagle (2), (Connolly, Orlov)
6:42 WSH Eller (4), (Oshie, Ovechkin)

Third Period
3:45 TB Stamkos (4), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
13:03 TB Palat (5), (Johnson, Stralman)

That was 40 minutes of embarrassingly flat hockey. Frankly, it's inexcusable at this time of year and whatever parades this team thought they were getting after vanquishing Boston just got cancelled. Yes, the team had a big momentum swing at the end of the First Period where a Kucherov breakaway goal was negated by a too many men penalty that swung to an Ovechkin power play goal three seconds later. That whole sequence just shows you the lack of mental sharpness and intensity that branded tonight's outing a failure from the word jump. You fail to make a clean line change and then compound the issue by losing a draw cleanly and then fail to cover a very dangerous shooter off that draw to allow a goal with under 10 seconds to go in the period. They know better and I expect them to do better, but now they've got to hope spotting the Capitals this one doesn't come back to bite them in the rear end.

The good news is the team did reach down and gut out an effort in the Third Period that they won 2-0 where they outshot the Caps 11-7 after falling behind on the shot board a laughable 25-10 through two periods. Hopefully that little bit of momentum (aided by some great stops by Louis Domingue) translates to another big backs-against-the-wall Game Two encounter similar to what they did against the Bruins.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:57. He was also 45% on 11 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 5-6-18 Bruins at Lightning

Lightning stay the course and finish off the Bruins.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-1
TB-3

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. Didn't face a ton of quality chances until Boston made their late push to equalize and in those moments Andrei was huge.

First Period
19:12 BOS Krejci (3), (McAvoy, Bergeron)(PP)

Second Period
10:43 TB Point (4), (unassisted)
14:00 TB Miller (2), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
18:31 TB Stralman (1), (Hedman)(EN)

Vasilevskiy, J.T. Miller, and Brayden Point were the game's three stars.

What a series by the Tampa Bay Lightning as the exorcised the demons of the past quarter century to humiliate the Bruins in five games. After a horrible result in Game One, Brayden Point's line rebounded to outplay the Bruins' top line and help lead the Lightning into the Eastern Conference Finals. Today, the Lightning showed the maturity to stay the course at 5v5 after a hard luck late power play goal allowed in the First Period. The Lightning kept up the pressure and it was ultimately Point that unlocked Rask and Ondrej Palat who later drew the penalty that led to J.T. Miller's game winning power play goal. Those two players, Point and Palat, had amazing series and played some of the best 200 foot hockey you'll ever see in your life.

Now the Lightning await the winner of the Caps/Penguins series. Who am I rooting for in that encounter? A natural disaster that swallows up both teams, of course.

Anthony Cirelli had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:22. He was also 42% on 19 draws. The Lightning won 55% as a team today and that was a tremendous factor in their ability to win this series overall. They punched well above their weight class in the circles.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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

TB-4
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)

Overtime
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.

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

TB-4
BOS-1

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
NO SCORING

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.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-30-18 Bruins at Lightning

Point line redemption levels series against hated Bruins.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-2
TB-4

Series Tied 1-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 20 shots for the win. Horribly soft goal on the second goal, but the team didn't pay for it ultimately. He did make several key situational saves up until that point.

First Period
11:47 TB Gourde (2), (Point, Sergachev)(PP)
18:30 BOS McAvoy (1), (Bergeron, Marchand)

Second Period
10:14 TB Johnson (3), (Point, Palat)

Third Period
14:08 TB Palat (2), (Point)
15:58 BOS Krug (3), (Pastrnak, Marchand)
19:34 TB Point (2), (Hedman)(EN)

Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars.

That was a Lightning team with urgency and passion and they absolutely deserved the victory in Game Two no matter the protestations from Bruins Pravda, er NBCSN. The way was led by the redemption of Brayden Point's line, which rebounded from the shame of their Game One performance against Boston's Bergeron line to outright win that matchup in Game Two. If that line outplays the Bergeron line, Boston can't win this series. Flat out. So, we'll see what Boston's response is moving forward in Game Three. Also of note in this game was the physicality of the Lightning as they absolutely pasted the Bruins throughout the match. J.T. Miller. Ryan Callahan. Cedric Paquette. Ondrej Palat. Up and down the Lightning lineup they handed out heavy hits and, I think, took Boston completely off guard with the sheer volume of violence they could deploy. With that said, Boston's a big nasty team and I expect them to try and thug it up on their home ice after getting their punk cards pulled in Game Two. The Lightning need to be ready to sustain the physical intensity they showed tonight. Can't be a one night show.

Boston's going to complain about the uncalled slash on the Marchand breakaway in the Third Period. Cry me a river. Brad Marchand got away with literally biting a linesman in a First Period. Not kidding. He literally bit a linesman on the arm. No call. Tim Schaller punches Vasilevskiy in the mask skating by his crease in the Second Period. No call. You can lecture me all about the finer points of normal game officiating the second you cut crap like that and throwing skate blades and licking your opponents out of your game. Not before.

Tampa Bay gave themselves a chance with the win tonight, but the heaviest lifting is left to come. Task one: get at least one of Game Three or Four in Boston and, at a minimum, make this a 3-game series where the Lightning have home ice. It's going to take an even sharper, direct, and physical performance than what we saw tonight, but I think this Lightning team has it in them. They've had the possession advantage, big time, in both games. If they mix in the snarl to go with it and the Point line continues to at least break even with the Bergeron line I like Tampa Bay's chances.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 shots and was 75% on 8 draws in 11:09.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-28-18 Bruins at Lightning

Bruins top line humbles Lightning in Game One defeat.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-6
TB-2

Boston Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss. None of those goals were soft, necessarily, but at the end of the day Rask made a ton of big situational saves and Vasilevskiy didn't. He needs to rise to the occasion in this moment.

First Period
17:11 BOS Nash (2), (Pastrnak, Bergeron)(PP)

Second Period
0:42 BOS Bergeron (2), (Pastrnak, Marchand)
2:31 TB Girardi (1), (Paquette, Hedman)
12:33 BOS Nash (3), (Krejci, Pastrnak)
13:22 TB Sergachev (2), (Point, Gourde)(PP)

Third Period
3:32 BOS Marchand (4), (McAvoy)
10:11 BOS Bergeron, (Marchand, Pastrnak)
13:41 BOS DeBrusk (6), (Marchand, McAvoy)(EN)

Well that was certainly frustrating. The Lightning actually had a very good first 20 minutes and could've easily built themselves a lead were it not for some excellent situational saves by Rask, only to see a penalty and a faceoff loss turn into a greasy goal by Boston to stake them to the 1-0 lead at the opening intermission. The Lightning then promptly failed to show up for the opening shift of the Second Period and quickly found themselves down 2-0 before starting to find their legs in the middle frame. They got the score to 3-2 after 40 minutes and had actually carried the bulk of the play at 5v5 up until that point and then they just completely laid an egg against Boston's top line in the Third Period and ended up getting blown out.

Bottom line up front: I think the Lightning are the deeper of the two teams. I think the first and third lines, in particular, had pretty good games today even though they really failed to find the scoresheet largely due to Rask's heroics. None of that matters, though, if the Bruins' top line is allowed to run wild to the tune of 3 goals and 11 points, collectively. The Lightning's second line of Palat/Point/Johnson drew that matchup in this game and they absolutely got eaten alive, whether it was Point losing key draws to Bergeron or Johnson losing his mark in and around the circles in the defensve zone or atop the blue paint. Of the three guys on that line, I think Palat's the only one who had any bright moments in this game and Johnson, in particular, got absolutely abused by Marchand and later Bergeron. So, I think Jon Cooper's got a lot of soul searching to do in order to find some better matchups. And, honestly, that could mean moving Gourde onto that line (who played really well) in Johnson's place or it could mean moving Kucherov onto that line and giving him the challenge of trying to best Boston's best. It's a problem that will require an innovative solution that isn't entirely clear to me at this juncture.

Boston's accomplished everything they came to Tampa to achieve by taking home ice in Game One. Game Two is an opportunity for them to try to shorten this series while the Lightning will just be trying to stay, realistically, alive. Back against the wall time already. All hands on deck.

One other thing I want to say after this game is that I think it's a joke the way the NHL coddles the Boston Bruins. Rask has a hissy fit and does something incredibly dangerous throwing a skate blade on a call that the referees properly made and they do nothing. Guys are cross checking guys in the kidneys and slashing guys after the whistle and the Bruins have the gall to stay out during Second Intermission to talk to the refs as if they were aggrieved. Why do they feel so entitled? Maybe because the league treats the Bruins like an overly permissive parent treats a spoiled brat grandchild. "Oh, excuse me little Brad. If it wouldn't be too much trouble could you, um, well, try not to lick another person without their permission. Please?" When you limply rebuke things like that and turn a blind eye to the kind of crap Rask pulled today it contributes to the appearance of lawlessness in the league, at least where the Bruins and a handful of the league's other "chosen grandchildren" teams are involved. And, frankly, it's not a good look.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:37 and was 54% on 13 draws. I thought that third line with Gourde and Killorn on his wings was pretty dynamite and I'm a little surprised they didn't pop one in. I'm a little concerned that Cirelli appeared to have some heavy legs in this game at times, but all in all he was a positive for the Lightning in an otherwise dim afternoon.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-21-18 Devils at Lightning

Workmanlike Lightning dominate their way to the second round.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

NJ-1
TB-3

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. He could've been out there in a lawn chair for half of this game, but remained razor sharp when the time came to dial up a situational save. He looks ready for the heavy lifting to come.

First Period
8:07 TB Sergachev (1), (Cirelli)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
12:27 TB Kucherov (5), (Stralman, Stamkos)
17:00 NJ Maroon (1), (Palmieri, Butcher)
19:58 TB Callahan (1), (McDonagh)(EN)

Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars. Cory Schneider got the second star in defeat for standing on his head just to give the Devils a chance. There was an appreciable difference in quality once the Devils made the switch from Kinkaid in this series. Tampa Bay probably scores five or six goals in this game if not for Schneider's heroics.

That's how you eliminate a team. The Lightning put the hammer down and dominated about 50 of 60 minutes in this game to build a 38-27 shot advantage and eventually the 3-1 victory. They left no doubt who the better team was or who wanted it more. The Lightning just kept grinding on the Devils in waves. Good habits all over the rink. Good habits all over this series. The challenges are going to get a lot bigger in subsequent rounds, but this series against the Devils was a good way to get ready for those challenges.

Someone tell NBCSN that Taylor Hall isn't Jesus and that maybe they might want to spend a second or two talking about dude who had 2 points a game in the series (Kucherov).

Contrary to Brian Boyle's admonitions, not only is Mikhail Sergachev still alive at the end of this series, but he obviously had a key goal in the clincher. Devils fans should feel stupid for trying to portray Boyle as Hannibal Lecter in skates. Honest player. Not a killer. And, Sergachev's no punk.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 4 hits. He was also 60% on 10 draws and the coaching staff threw him out with about a minute to go protecting a one goal lead in a series clincher. Respect.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-18-18 Lightning at Devils

This time the Lightning finish the job.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

TB-3
NJ-1

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory, and that 1 goal was on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The sharpness is there and he made a big handful of situational saves. He's really rounded into form and feels on the verge of going on a patented Vasiy run.

First Period
8:23 NJ Palmieri (1), (Butcher, Hall)(PP)
11:30 TB Miller (1), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
15:02 TB Kucherov (3), (Coburn, Miller)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
18:52 TB Kucherov (4), (Miller)(EN)

Vasilevskiy and J.T. Miller were the game's first and third stars. The spitefulness of the New Jersey media where Kucherov is concerned on full display there.

Despite a First Period hiccup to allow a 5-on-3 power play, the Lightning more or less learned the lessons of Game Three to put together the road win they needed to give them a chance to shorten this series. Tampa Bay managed the puck reasonably well throughout the game and played a simple possession game to outshoot New Jersey 37-28 in the contest. They did have some penalty troubles overall, but both teams were in the box too much and neither really gained a whole lot of advantage from it. My biggest takeaways: the penalty kill for the Lightning has looked a lot better in the postseason as have individual defenders like Brayden Coburn and the team put New Jersey on complete lockdown in the Third Period protecting the one goal lead. It was clinical. Bottom line the win proved what we should all know by now: New Jersey isn't winning without help from the Lightning in the form of stupid turnovers or penalties. They simply can't generate enough offense on their own at 5v5 to defeat the Lightning.

Now, one of the big deflection points in this game was the monstrous hit by Nikita Kucherov in the First Period that knocked Sami Vatanen out of the game. New Jersey going down to five defensemen almost assuredly contributed to their Third Period ineffectiveness as they were chasing the game down one. There's some thought that perhaps Kucherov could see a suspension for the hit. I didn't think he hit him in the head and it'd be a miscarriage of justice. I get you want to legislate head hunting out of the game, but that's not what Kucherov did on that play. Still, I could see the NHL putting their filthy fingers on the scales knowing Vatanen is the one real top flight puck moving defenseman the Devils have and his absence crushes their effectiveness as a team at both 5v5 and on the PP.

Either way the Lightning have a pretty glorious opportunity on Saturday to conclude this series in five games and conserve energy by ending this series early. The playoffs are a marathon and you want gas in the tank at the end. This team understands that lesson well and I expect them to bear down to finish the job and get this series out of the way efficiently.

Anthony Cirelli had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 16:05, but he was also just 29% on 17 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-16-18 Lightning at Devils

Lightning miss an opportunity to put the Devils firmly behind the eight ball.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

TB-2
NJ-5

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 39 shots for the loss. Despite the outcome, I thought he played pretty well. He's rounding into form nicely in this series, in my opinion.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:42 TB Killorn (4), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)
12:24 NJ Hall (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
0:38 TB Stamkos (1), (Kucherov, Killorn)(PP)
4:03 NJ Butcher (1), (Hall, Palmieri)(PP)
12:55 NJ Noesen (1), (Hall, Greene)
19:02 NJ Coleman (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:22 NJ Lovejoy (1), (unassisted)(EN)

The Lightning played this game right along the lines of the blueprint they needed to all the way up until 2:39 into the Third Period when Cedric Paquette took a stupid slewfooting call that was promptly followed up by a too many men call on the PK. They threw New Jersey a lifeline with a 5-on-3 goal and the rest is history. This isn't complex: if the Lightning stay disciplined and manage the puck well New Jersey can't beat them. When you gift goals on weak clears (the first goal), take stupid penalties (the second goal), or fail to sort out coverage assignments despite having a numerical advantage defending the rush (the third goal), that's how you throw the Devils a lifeline and give them an upset opportunity.

With all that said, I think the Lightning controlled the balance of this game and are still perfectly capable of picking off Game Four to get the split they wanted out of this trip north before heading home for Game Five. They just have to stick to the formula and not get too preoccupied with New Jersey's fake tough guy shenanigans they tried to pull at the end of this game. The Lightning need to ignore that and stick to playing measured, cerebral hockey.

Speaking of which: perhaps someone at the league office can explain to me how Blake Coleman was allowed to act like he had a concussion late in the Third Period to draw a call on Mikhail Sergachev and yet didn't have to go to the quiet room. Can anyone explain that to me? Didn't miss a shift. So, either the New Jersey medical staff allowed a concussed player back on the rink immediately or he deserves an Academy Award for that acting performance. You make the call, folks. I found the whole affair to be pretty revealing of Coleman's character and the Devils organization's character, frankly.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:48. He was also 38% on 13 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-14-18 Devils at Lightning

Vasilevskiy carries injury fatigued Lightning to the pay window.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

NJ-3
TB-5

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 44 shots for the victory. He made a fleet of big situational saves in the Third Period with a tired Lightning team having to play down a forward and a defenseman with Callahan and Girardi in the locker room.

First Period
12:15 TB Point (1), (Palat, McDonagh)
13:38 NJ Hiscier (1), (unassisted)

Second Period
3:14 TB Killorn (2), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)
4:36 TB Johnson (2), (McDonagh, Point)
6:01 TB Kucherov (2), (unassisted)
13:12 TB Killorn (3), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
19:34 NJ Vatanen (1), (Greene, Schneider)

Third Period
11:57 NJ Coleman (1), (Zajac, Moore)

Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars. Vasilevskiy got hosed by the media.

This was a tale of two games. The Lightning once again completely outclassed New Jersey with their depth and poise through the first 45 minutes of this contest en route to building a massive 5-1 lead. They managed the puck well, only conceding on a clean faceoff loss in their own zone that led to a bad clear off a rebound. I especially liked the second power play goal by Killorn to land the kill shot on New Jersey when the opportunity came to put the game effectively out of reach. What I did not like was how the team played to close out the Second Period thereafter as they lost focus and started turning over pucks and not closing out plays. Bad habit creep in during garbage time and that was starting to happen when things went from bad to worse with Callahan and Girardi going out of the game. Callahan looked to me to either have an issue with his ribs or his shoulder and I didn't see what happened to Girardi. The Lightning came out for the Third Period looking pretty good protecting the three goal lead but looked absolutely dragging tired the last ten minutes of the contest when Vasilevskiy had to sparkle to get it over the finish line.

Now the series shifts to New Jersey and there's still a lot of series left to go here, I think. We'll wait to see the fate of Callahan and Girardi. Girardi's injury could be particularly costly if it draws in Andrej Sustr for what appears on paper to be a terrible matchup against the quick Devils on the road where they have last change. The Lightning have done what they needed to do at home holding serve for the 2-0 lead, but the old wise men will tell you it's not a series until someone wins a road game. The Lightning need to lick their wounds and then play a sober, professional road style in hopes of stealing at least one in Newark to give themselves a shot to eventually close this series out early and prevent further attrition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 15:22. He was also 70% on 10 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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