The Bruins faced off against Atlantic Division rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning in their second round-robin game. After two sub-par outings against the Blue Jackets and Flyers, the Bruins needed a bounce-back game. The Lightning, on the other hand, won both of their games and looked to keep the momentum going. Tuukka Rask made his return in net after a precautionary quarantine held him out of game 1. Nick Ritchie also made his return to the ice in his first game these playoffs.
The game did not get off to a good start with Lauzon taking a penalty just 43 seconds in. Fortunately for the Bruins, the early miscue wouldn't cost them and they killed the penalty off. The Bruins’ first chance came off a Coyle and Debrusk 2 on 1 about five minutes in. Coyle tried to feed DeBrusk but his pass was partially blocked ending the rush opportunity. The Bruins would keep possession giving Coyle a backhand chance later in the shift. Tampa’s first line would answer with a chance of their own from Palat but Rask made an impressive stop. Less than a minute later that line would have a 3 on 2. Rask made the save on the initial Kucherov chance but the trailing Point would bang home the rebound 1-0 Tampa.
Halfway into the first, a poor change would cause the Bruins to take a too many men penalty. Just thirteen seconds into the power play a shot from the point would be partially blocked by Kuraly. Unfortunately, it would deflect again off Killorn’s skate and into the net 2-0 Tampa. A point shot from Pasta led to a rebound chance reinforcing the need to get pucks on net. Now that the offense was starting to get going it was time to get more physical. After Coleman lands a big hit on Carlo he and Krug drop the gloves. While it was more a wrestling match than a fight the Bruins needed it.
The next shift Ritchie laid a big hit on Cirelli. It took about fifteen minutes but we finally have playoff hockey. The hits started to affect Tampa as Point took exception to a clean hit from McAvoy resulting in roughing penalties for both players. Point took an extra minor putting the Bruins on the power play. The Bruins came about an inch away from cutting the lead to one on another point shot from Pasta. Vasilevskiy had trouble with the shot and it almost squeaked through into the net but McDonagh pulls it off the line. The first period comes to an end with the score still 2-0 Tampa.
Tampa would finish the penalty kill to start the second period. Just under five minutes in the fourth line would draw a penalty with some great effort plays. The Bruins would generate some chances but Tampa was very conscious of Bergeron as the bumper killing off the penalty. Tampa would generate the next chance and Rask would have to make an interesting head save with nine minutes to play. Cassidy must have sent a clear message at the intermission as the Bruins' defensive coverage was vastly improved in the second period. With just over three minutes left the Bruins finally get on the board. Bergeron wins an offensive zone draw back to Krug who passes to McAvoy and he blasts home the shot. As the period ends Bjork and Ritchie sandwich Mcdonagh playing all the way to the horn 2-1 Tampa.
Just two minutes in the fourth line would be at it again. Kuraly steals the puck on the forecheck and sends a pass to the point. Chara then rips a shot through Vasilevskiy but it hits the post. Wagner crashes the net and bangs home the puck tying the score at 2. The fourth line continues its exceptional play drawing another penalty just five minutes in. Tampa would again kill the penalty off but the chances are coming finally. The next Bruins chance would come on a Bjork shot from the slot but the story is the hit that was made after the shot. Going low to take the shot Bjork is in a vulnerable position that Goodrow takes full advantage of laying his shoulder almost into Bjork’s face. The Bruins get another power play but even as it looks better and better still no goals.
From here the game starts to take a turn. With about seven minutes left Rask makes a huge stop on a tipped shot in from Point. Tampa’s top line would continue to generate chances this time forcing Rask to make a stop on Palat right in the crease. With about three minutes left Rask loses control of the puck and a pileup in front of the net happens as both teams scramble for possession. Finally with just 1:27 left in the game poor rebound control from Rask leaves the puck right in the slot for Tyler Johnson all alone and he buries it giving Tampa the 3-2 lead. As the final horn sounds Tampa walks away with the 3-2 victory and the Bruins know they let that one get away.
The first star of the game goes to Brayden Point. With Stamkos out Point was the play driver behind the at times dominant first line for Tampa. He also scored the first goal of the game but he was solid every time he was on the ice. The second star of the game goes to Tyler Johnson. With an assist on Tampa’s second goal and scoring the eventual game-winner, he was a big part of their win. The third and final star goes to the entire Bruins fourth line. They generated the tying goal they drew penalties and even matched up at times with Tampa’s top line. That group was by far the Bruins best this game and all of them deserve to be the third star.
Well, this is the Bruins third straight loss since the return to play. Yes, we would have liked a win but this game was a vast improvement over the previous two. The team was physical they finally started to shoot more and very easily could have walked away with the win. The final seven minutes were rough but maybe they just didn't have the legs to keep up the defensive pressure. After the first two goals, the defense tightened up and made life difficult for the Tampa offense. In the final seven minutes that just wasn't the case and it cost them the win. The final round-robin game against the Capitals is on Sunday. With Kase returning to the lineup hopefully we can see further improvement and finally get a win. As always stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!!
Featured image courtesy of Elisa Amendola/AP.