The Bruins and Lightning faced off for the second time this week in yet another titanic battle between the two Eastern Conference heavyweights. This game, much like the one earlier this week, had the feel of playoff hockey. It also had the most physicality we have probably seen all season in a Bruins game. There were big hits, there were fights, we even had a couple full on line brawls after some questionable behavior after the whistle. This game had it all, and if you missed it hopefully this captures some of the essence of today's crazy game. Let's break it down.
The game did not get off to a fast start, but five minutes in the Bruins were going on the power play. The Bruins power play was sloppy, to put it mildly. After winning a faceoff in the offensive zone Cirelli got to the loose puck first, causing Pastrnak to be out of position. This led to a 2 on 1 for the Lightning, and Cirelli put his shot behind Rask giving the Lightning the lead. Just a minute later on the same power play the Bruins would struggle to control the puck in their own zone. A blown coverage would leave Sergachev alone in the slot and his shot would also find it's way into the net and it was 2-0 Tampa, all during a Bruins power play.
With 11 minutes to go in the period after both exiting the penalty box, Wagner and Goodrow would drop the gloves finishing what the refs had stopped just two minutes earlier. The fight was a good response to a high hit Goodrow had on Kase earlier in the game. The Bruins would use the fight victory to take some of the momentum as they tried to get back into the game. With just under eight minutes to go the Bruins would go on another power play. The Bruins would create a few chances, but nothing would find the back of the net. More importantly, no pucks would go into their own net this time either. With under a minute to go the Bruins would go on the penalty kill after a questionable interference call against Lauzon. The first period would end with the Bruins down 2-0, but outshooting Tampa 14-5.
The Bruins would kill off the remaining penalty time and go to work trying to get their offense going. Unfortunately it would be Tampa who came out the stronger team in the period. Just over seven minutes in Tampa would control the puck in the offensive zone, and another missed coverage would lead to them extending their lead. A pass from below the goal line would find Paquette alone in the slot and he would not miss. 3-0 Tampa. The Bruins finally woke up, and after Vasilevskiy bobbled a rebound Marchand would try to pry the puck loose. This ended in every member of the Lightning taking him to the boards, followed by some furious Bruins coming to the defense of their teammate. A full line brawl would ensue as the mass of humanity lost its collective cool and the end result was a 4 on 4.
During the 4 on 4 the Bruins would finally get on the board. The Bruins got a clean breakout, with Coyle and Debrusk going into the offensive zone. McAvoy came up trailing behind Debrusk, who drove the net clearing space, and the shot from McAvoy would find the net cutting the lead to two. Vasilevskiy would continue to struggle to control rebounds and hold onto the puck. As the Bruins continued to keep the pressure on another mishandled puck would get poked through Vasilevskiy. Just as it hit the goal line it got swept away by a Tampa stick. As play continued the siren would sound signaling that the puck had indeed crossed the goal line making it 3-2.
As the players attempted to figure out what was happening Maroon and Chara got into it, and Cirelli took it upon himself to come from behind Chara and cross-check him to the ice. This started yet another line brawl with several players getting in wrestling matches, along with Chara and Maroon dropping the gloves. Even a Tampa assistant coach would get involved from the door of his bench, berating the refs for their handling of everything. When it was all said and done the Bruins would be on the power play with under a minute and a half left in the period. The power play would again create multiple chances, but the period would end with the score still 3-2 in favor of Tampa. The teams couldn't even get to the tunnels without an altercation. Marchand would end up taking a penalty ending the Bruins power play, which carried over to the third.
The third period would start with the Bruins playing 4 on 4 followed by a minute of power-play time for Tampa after the Marchand penalty. The Lightning would once again make the Bruins pay for their mistake, as Killorn tipped in a shot from the point making it a two-score game. Six minutes into the third the Bruins would go on the power play. After a faceoff win the puck would go from Marchand to Krug to Pastrnak and into the back of the net. Pasta fired a rocket from the point for his 48th goal of the year, bringing the Bruins within one once again. Rask would make some big saves to keep Tampa’s lead at one. With seven minutes to go Pastrnak would receive a pass from Debrusk sending him in alone against Vasilevskiy and he just could not finish. Tampa would score one final goal with the Bruins net empty, finishing the game with the score of 5 to 3.
Three Stars/Final Thoughts
The first star of the game goes to Tampa defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev not only scored a short-handed goal and got an assist on the game-winner. He also played a huge defensive role for Tampa. The second star of the game goes to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made some huge saves to keep the Lightning in the lead, allowing them to walk away with the win. The third and final star goes to Anthony Cirelli, who opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal and also played a very solid two-way game all night.
The Bruins despite some big early mistakes and even going down 3-0 at one point fought back and had a chance to even tie the game up. They answered the bell physically and would not let Tampa push them around on their home ice. In the end the mistakes added up to a loss, but I did like the team's fight and compete level in the game. The loss now has them only seven points clear in the Division, and also snapped their four-game winning streak. The Bruins will be back in action Tuesday in Philadelphia, and then Friday in Buffalo before heading back home. The schedule is not very hard from here on out so the Bruins should be able to hold onto that seven-point lead and end the year as Atlantic Division champs. Don't forget to check out our other team pages for all the latest in Boston sports as the Bruins and Celtics make their final pushes towards the playoffs.
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