By MyFM's Jake Archer - As a Boston sports fan, I know full-well that we can all get a little bit arrogant. After a big Game 1 win down in Tampa Bay, many were saying the Bruins would roll over the Lightning with more ease than expected. I was certainly fired up, but I knew after last series that you can't write anyone off until you win that fourth game. The B's got a good dose of reality served to them in Game 2 in Tampa and back home for Game 3. Now, they'll need to show up an even the series tonight in Boston or risk being on the verge of a playoff exit.
In Game 2 on Monday night, the Bruins were just flat out out-played. Sure there were some suspect calls, but the reason Boston lost was because Tampa showed the ability to capitalize more often and make less errors. Of course, the game wasn't a blowout and the B's had a few chances to make something happen, but they never could. Too often they looked timid and when this team is at their best they are taking some chances and good things are happening.
The scoring opened up when Tampa got on the power-play and Yanni Gourde found the back of the net off assists from Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev. Late in the period, Boston's Charlie McAvoy tied it at one with his first goal of the postseason. The feed came from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. In the second, the B's struggled to even get shots on goal. Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson cashed in about halfway through the period on his 24th career playoff goal with assists from Point and Ondrej Palat. Through two, the Lightning had put five more shots on net and Boston wasn't feeling it on offense and had squandered some good power-plays like the 5 on 3.
A good chunk of the third period went by before Palat scored to make it 3-1 Tampa. Point had assisted on another goal and Boston needed a response. Finally, Torey Krug put one by Vasilevskiy to draw within one. The assists came from David Pastrnak and Marchand and the game was far from over. The clock ticked down and soon the B's pulled Rask to get an extra skater. They couldn't hang on to the puck though and Point capped his big day (third four-point game in team history) with an empty-netter from Victor Hedman in the final minute. At 4-2, the game was over and the series was tied. Both goalies had played pretty well but it really came down to the Bruins being outshot 31-20. If you don't make opportunities, you aren't going to score. Things don't always go the way they did in Game 1.
Tampa had come out and competed after getting their doors blown off in Game 1, and saved themselves from losing both games on their home ice. Credit to them for staying with what they know and believing that they can play much better and bounce back. They were the best team in the East for a reason. Now they'd head to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday night.
In Game 3, Tampa Bay kept the momentum and sucked the air right out of the Boston crowd early. Palat took advantage of a Boston error and scored on a 2-on-1 before two minutes had even come off of the clock to put the Lightning up 1-0. The assists came from Johnson and Anton Stralman. Less than two minutes later, Palat came back with another goal, this time from Hedman and Dan Girardi. The shot had caromed off of Krug and in to the net for more bad luck for Boston. The slow start was not what Boston needed and returning fire was a must. Luckily, Patrice Bergeron had that covered as he scored on the power-play about 11 minutes later. Pastrnak and Rick Nash were credited with the assists. The crowd was back in it, but not for long. Anthony Cirelli scored his first career NHL playoff goal late in the first from Gourde and Ryan McDonagh to give Tampa their two goal lead back. It's safe to say Tuukka and the defense could have been better.
In the second, the teams slowed down and did not score. The pace they had set early was wild and now they were back to normal. Once the third came around though, you had to expect the intensity to ratchet right up, especially for Boston. Well, if you did expect that you were wrong. The goalies had really settled in and the offenses were stagnant. Not until Boston pulled Rask late did anyone find the net, and that came with a Steven Stamkos power-play goal from Hedman and JT Miller. Boston was finished off again and Tampa had won 4-1 in what was never really a close or exciting matchup. The B's had been outshot again, 37-29. They couldn't seem to find a way to get pucks by Vasilevskiy. Now both teams had won on the road and the series had swung in favor of the Lightning by a good margin. Boston would have to come back with a big win on Friday night in Game 4 to salvage a home victory.
For Stamkos, the goal was a huge confidence booster as he has been struggling so far. For the Bruins, it really hurt and now they'll be desperate. After the game, they admitted to being in a slump and even though they said they'll be fine in the long run, it's tough to see them look dejected. They'll have to rally tonight because we knew this series was going to be a battle. It's the two best teams from the East going at it, so there isn't much else to expect.
Unfortunatey Bruce Cassidy has said that both Jake DeBrusk and Marchand "have some nicks" and will be game-time decisions. He said he expects them to play, and boy do I hope that he's right. In better news, it sounds like the B's will let the rookie Ryan Donato (who is finishing up finals at Harvard) play tonight. No word yet on who he will be replacing, but let's hope he brings a spark. Boston has faced adversity all year, so it's surprising when they stay down and out. I don't think that will be the case tonight and you should make sure to tune in here on MyFM for the puck drop at 7 p.m.