The Tampa Bay Lighting came back from a three goal deficit to beat the Boston Bruins 5-3 in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Among other things, this win puts the Lightning among only three other teams in NHL playoff history who have come back to win after trailing by three goals.
The Lightning opened with the energy that was lacking in game three, but had considerable trouble managing the puck. That, matched with defensive issues early in the first period, gave the Bruins the opportunity to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring at 11:47, taking the puck from behind the net to score against Dwayne Roloson. Two more goals within 84 seconds, one shorthanded, gave the Bruins the 3-0 lead by the end of the first.
Really, it looked like things were over for them. But if you thought this was the team that was going to give up and let the Bruins walk all over them, again, you were wrong.Mike Smith made his second appearance of the series in net after the third goal, coming in for Roloson.
The Bolts returned in the second period to turn the game around, scoring three goals in a four minute span to tie the game at three. Teddy Purcell scored goals one and two, followed by Sean Bergenheim's game-tying goal at 10:53.
The Bolts battled through the second and into the third, finally breaking the tie 7 minutes into the period with Simon Gagne's goal coming off a pass from Ryan Malone to bring the score 4-3.
"Whenever it's a big moment, you know he's there," Guy Boucher said afterwards.
Martin St. Louis brought the score to 5 with an empty-netted goal with thirty seconds left in the game, assisted by Simon Gagne and Victor Hedman.
Mike Smith made 21 saves to stave the Bruins off the rest of the game.
And for a team who refuses to give up, Smith is the very definition of such. Considering his journey this season, being sent the minors mid-season, Smith said afterwards that at the time, he didn't the he'd play with the Lightning again.
"I decided to work really hard, and choose the hard road instead of the easy way out. The hard way is to bear down and work really hard and try to get an opportunity again."
Anyone who has followed Mike Smith knows how impressive his performance tonight was. Roloson said of Smith afterwards:
"Very proud. He came in and played amazing for us, especially going in, he killed off that big penalty and made some big saves for us. He gave the guys a lot of confidence."
As for not giving up, all of this and we haven't even talked about some of the calls in this game. There was the time when Tim Thomas punched Adam Hall, which went unnoticed. There was the 10 minute misconduct given to Steve Downie after the first period, matched by only a five-minute major to Rich Peverley. Oh, and then there was the diving call given to Downie at the end of the second. I'm not one to harp on officiating, but there was an awful show of it tonight.
The Bolts and the Bruins are now tied 2-2 this series. We'll be looking to see if the Bolts can continue the turn around in Boston on Monday night.