The Bruins vs. Lightning second-round series kicked off with a bang. If you missed the game notes for game 1 here is a great article by one of our other talented Bruins writers, Liz. The last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs was also in the second-round back in 2018. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost that series in five games, losing four in a row after a game 1 win. Adding to the Bruins' quest for revenge, the Lightning also won this year’s season series taking three out of four against the black and gold. Some good news for the Bruins: The Lightning are still without superstar center Steven Stamkos. If the regular-season matchups tell us anything, this is going to be an intense physical series. Can we expect anything less from the two top teams in the Atlantic Division?
Thirty seconds later, the Bruins were forced to kill a penalty after a likely embellishment led to a cross-checking call against Chara. After an early chance, the Bruins killed off the penalty. Outside of a Bergeron shot right off a faceoff, both teams struggled to create scoring chances early. Kuraly had a great chance in front, stopped by a goal-saving shot blocked by Paquette. Tampa answered back with a Kucherov shot right off a faceoff win, but Halak was ready for it. With just over eight minutes left, the Bruins went on their first power play of the game.
Bergeron had a tip in the slot off a Pastrnak shot but it was smothered by Vasilevskiy. Some sloppy zone entries prevented the Bruins from getting any more chances and Tampa killed off the penalty. With just over two minutes left, Kase breaks through the Tampa defense and is in alone against Vasilevskiy. Unfortunately, Kase was denied his first playoff goal by an outstanding leg save by Vasilevskiy. Shortly after, Pastrnak would ring a shot off the post, but the Bruins are starting to build momentum. With just 1:08 left in the period, Coyle tipped home a point shot from Carlo, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead heading into the second.
Before the puck can even be dropped to start the period, Maroon and Kuraly are already jawing at each other. A little over three minutes in and the Bruins are getting back on the power play. A dominant shift by the top unit ended with Pastrnak sniping from his office on the left dot and it was 2-0 Bruins. A great pass from Krejci found Pasta alone on the dot, a mistake Vasilevskiy wasn't able to bail the defense out of. Just over six minutes in and Tampa had a chance to answer with Bergeron going into the box. The Bruins did a good job limiting Tampa’s space and with a few saves by Halak the penalty if killed. At about the halfway mark we had yet another goal controversy.
Tampa thought they had just cut the lead in half, but Tyler Johnson played the puck with a high stick resulting in the play being blown dead. McAvoy would get a scoring chance but once again Vasilevskiy would flash the leg pad and make the stop. Tampa would start to gain momentum, forcing Halak to make multiple in tight saves to preserve the two-goal lead. The Bruins would answer with two great chances from Kase and Carlo but Vasilevskiy would deny both. With about four minutes left Halak would have made yet another huge save, this time stopping Goodrow with a leg pad. The second period came to a close with the Bruins leading 2-0.
Just over a minute into the third, a great forecheck by Marchand and Bergeron led to a Tampa turnover. Bergeron passes to Pasta, who feeds Marchand across the slot and puts the puck into the open net making it 3-0 Bruins. A few minutes later, matching roughing minors were called on Ritchie and Bogosian, and the teams skated 4 on 4. With just over eleven minutes remaining, Hedman wristed the puck into the net off McAvoy’s shin and with Halak cutting the lead to two. Halak made a big save on Paquette to keep the two-goal lead. Tampa continues to ramp up the pressure, but Halak is up to the challenge.
The Bruins are starting to play a more defensive style, content to hold the lead, and take chances when they come. On one such chance, Marchand gets a pass all alone in the slot but the tumbling puck goes just wide of the net. With under three minutes to go, Tampa pulled Vaslievskiy for the sixth skater. The Bruins win the faceoff and the puck finds its way to Nordstrom but his shot is deflected away from the empty net off a defender’s stick. The miss proved costly and with 1:14 left Hedman struck once again, cutting the lead to one. His shot found its way through traffic in front and may have deflected on its way in. With under thirty seconds left, both Marchand and Bergeron would miss empty net chances. Fortunately for the Bruins, it won't cost them this time as they hold on to win 3-2.
The first star of the game went to Brad Marchand. Marchand assisted on the Bruins’ first goal and scored the eventual game-winner. He also led all Bruins forwards in ice time with over 21 minutes. The second star of the game went to Jaroslav Halak. With 35 saves on 37 shots, Halak frustrated the Lightning forwards all game long. If not for some lucky bounce for Hedman, Halak probably has a shutout. Finally, the third star of the game goes to Victor Headman. Hedman scored both of Tampa’s goals and was their best player on both offense and defense. He also led the team in ice time skating for over 25 minutes.
Before I jump onto my final thoughts, here is a video of coach Cassidy congratulating the team on their game 1 victory. It was a great win for the Bruins. Despite a couple of lucky bounces for Tampa, the Bruins were the better team for the majority of the game. Tampa had their stretches of offensive pressure, but the Bruins did their job and limited their momentum. Once again the top two lines were clicking with several chances that could have put the game out of reach. With back-to-back coming up for games 2 and 3 the defense will need to be at its best to keep Halak fresh, possibly for both games. If the Bruins can have a dominant performance in game 2 this series might be over faster than many of us thought. As always, stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP.