A battle of heavyweights. Definitely a phrase that comes to mind when watching the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Boston Bruins square off in the Eastern semi-final. The teams split the series in Tampa and the Bruins were looking to take the series lead at home. The Lightning had other plans however and it soon became apparent that the road to victory would not be an easy one. That being said one wouldn’t expect the game to be decided in the first period, but that’s exactly what happened.
It would be the Lighting who would strike first only a bit under two minutes into the period. Ondrej Palat would be the recipient of a one-timer blasted behind by Tuukka Rask, a one-timer that Palat would bury short side for the 1-0 lead. Tampa’s quick start would continue as only a minute later Palat would get another. This time he’d deflect the Vicktor Hedman shot by Rask giving Tampa the early 2-0 lead. However a bad penalty would put Boston on the powerplay with about five minutes to go. On that powerplay Patrice Bergeron would get the puck on a mad scramble and go five-hole on Andrei Vasilevskiy cutting the lead to 2-1. The celebration was short lived however as the Lightning would answer back two minutes later. Anthony Cerelli would notch his first of the playoffs over the shoulder of Rask restoring the two goal lead at 3-1. The period would end on that score with the shots being 19-14 for Tampa and that’s how the score would be for most of the game.
The second period would be in the Lightning’s favour again with an 11-8 edge in shots. This is largely due to a parade to the penalty box where the teams combined for a total of seven penalties. The score would remain unchanged until the last minute of the third period where Steven Stamkos would seal the deal with an empty net goal on the powerplay making the final 4-1. Which means Stamkos still hasn’t tallied an even strength goal since March 3rd but why should he care when his team won the game and took the series lead with it. The third period shots were 7-7 and the game was 37-29 for Tampa. Game four will be Friday May 4th in Boston, where the Bruins will look to tie the series at two at home.