Last night at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied up their second round series against the Boston Bruins at one game apiece after Ondrej Palat netted glove side on Jaroslav Halak at the 4:40 mark of overtime. After Halak stole the show in Game 1, what a different story in Game 2 as 3 of the 4 goals he allowed were unbearable to watch, a couple of 5-hole goals by Blake Coleman and the game winner by Palat. The Bruins defense couldn’t keep up with the young fast Lightning forwards playing like the Stanley Cup contender during the regular season without their fearless captain, Steven Stamkos who has been out with a lower-body injury he suffered during practice in July.
The game started with the Lightning living on the Bruins side of the ice but oddly enough the Bruins got the first goal as Nick Ritchie went cross crease to Anders Bjork missing the net, ricocheting off the boards then bouncing back to Ritchie who was able to poke it 5-hole past Andrei Vasilevskiy, 1-0 Bruins first shot of the game. Tampa Bay would respond with a shot by Braydon Coburn at the blue line that was tipped in by Barclay Goodrow, however, the goal was called back after review, Palat was offside after Goodrow flipped the puck into the zone. Goodrow wouldn’t be denied his point as he passed it to Zach Bogosian while unsteady on his skates completed the pass to Coleman who scored 5-hole while tripped by Bjork, 1-1. The physicality between the division rivals picked up as the first period came to a close and you got more of the same during the second period.
Deja-vu, the Lightning were putting up better numbers than the Bruins but again it was “The Black and Gold” who scored first. After a high sticking call on Palat, Torey Krug found David Pastrnak down low who completed the pass to a wide open Brad Marchand who banked it in on the power play, 2-1 Bruins. Victor Hedman didn’t look like a candidate for the Norris Trophy on that play. Not to worry, the Lightning responded just 56 seconds after the Marchand goal as the other star defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk ripped one from the right side boards that was tipped in blocker side by Nikita Kucherov. This would be Connor Clifton’s first of two huge mishaps on defense. Hedman was called for hooking late in the second but the Lightning played great defense leaving the Bruins empty handed, the score remained 2-2 heading into the third.
The “Explosive Bolts” continued to live in the Bruins end as Halak kept playing strong, that was until Hedman found Coleman all by his lonesome to score his second of the game giving the Lightning their first lead of the night. Two costly plays put the Bruins behind, Clifton’s second gaff of the game as he backpedaled slowly allowing Coleman to blow right by him and the other blunder, Halak’s lack of quickness to shut the 5-hole door as the puck trickled straight to the net. Laughable but painful for B’s fans. Could that one bad goal make Bruins’ fans rooting for Dan Vladar to get the start for Game 3?The game was looking bleak for the B’s as the Lightning defense continued to play superior, however there is one thing Bruins’ fans are used to and that is “Playoff Marchand.” Pastrnak backhanded a pass to Sean Kuraly who found Marchand on the side of the net to roof it past Vasilevskiy to tie the game at 3 with just under 4 minutes to go. An all-out assault by the Lightning as they tried to end it in regulation but it was the Bruins who rose to the occasion with two blocked shots by David Krejci, overtime was inevitable.
During the extra period, the Bruins were tired defensively and were too worried about clearing the puck instead of blocking shots and trying to get down ice and fire shots on Vasilevskiy. Halak made three straight stops. A save on Patrick Maroon, Palat and Yanni Gourde but ultimately came up short as Palat was able to score on the rebound glove side to give the Lightning a wild 4-3 overtime win.
The Lightning have now won 4 overtime games in the playoffs and all 7 of their postseason victories have come within one goal. The team's first two lines have been impressive as they continue to perform at a high level in both the regular season and postseason. The Bruins offense has been solid but the D-unit needs to step up to lessen the pressure on Halak who's been filling big shoes after Tuukka Rask’s unexpected departure.
Tune in for Game 3 tonight at 8:00 PM, ET on NBCSN to find out who will take the series lead.