The Tampa Bay Lightning earned a very important win in a very difficult game against the Boston Bruins, which was interrupted several times due to multiple fights on the ice. Both teams got an early look on what their potential playoff meeting could look like.
As in the previous game, the Bruins outshot their opponent, although this time the Lightning controlled the game in terms of expected goal share. The Lightning took an early lead in the first period after shorthanded goals by Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev also became the second Lightning defenceman who reached the 10-goal mark this season. He also set a career high in goals in a single season. Andrei Vasilevskiy faced 38 shots and allowed three goals.
Victor Hedman played just seven shifts for a total 4:36 TOI against the Bruins. He went to the locker room during the first period, returned later when the second period started, and after taking a couple of shifts, remained on the bench till the end of the game. At the time this recap is written, there’s no update on his status. In Hedman’s absence, Mikhail Sergachev played a career high 28:20 minutes.
With today’s win against the Bruins, the Lightning cut their margin behind the Bruins to seven points while having one game in hand. Tomorrow, the Lightning are going to Detroit.
The game started with a slight advantage by the Bruins. They put pressure on the opponent’s net, while the Lightning were struggling to get to the Bruins zone. After five minutes of playing, the Bruins got their first power play opportunity when Barclay Goodrow hit Ondrej Kase and headed to the penalty box.
The Lightning couldn’t imagine a better penalty kill. First, Anthony Cirelli picked up a puck after a faceoff in the Lightning zone, skated through the whole rink, and beat Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot, giving his team a 1-0 lead. Just a moment later, Yanni Gourde intercepted a puck on the Bruins blue line, entered their zone, and delivered a pass to Mikhail Sergachev in front of the net. Another shorthanded goal by the Lightning to make it 2-0. The Bolts had an ideal penalty kill, not only did they not allow any shots on their net, but scored two goals.
Goodrow returned to the penalty box again, this time he was involved in a tussle with Chris Wagner. Both players dropped the gloves but the referees didn’t let them fight. They got another chance as they exited the penalty box after two minutes of 4-on-4 play, but Goodrow probably wouldn’t want to remember this fight again.
Overall, the Bruins looked better this period. They completely outplayed the Lightning at 5-on-5, controlling 72 percent of shot attempts and keeping the Lightning out of their zone. During the first period, the Bolts took just one shot on goal and created 0.03 of expected goals at 5-on-5, but still had a lead thanks to two shorthanded goals in the first half of period and a flawless game from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning managed to change the direction of the game in the second period. They were the better team in the first half of the period, dominating the opponent at that stretch of the game. The top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat started to get more space on the ice. During the first period, they were totally kept out of the zone by Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara.
That led to the third goal for the Lightning. Zach Bogosian carried the puck behind the net despite two Bruins defencemen trying to stop him and made a pass to Cedric Paquette who was left alone in front of Rask. Paquette simply threw the puck over the goaltender, making it 3-0 for the Lightning.
With five minutes left, Cirelli jumped on Brad Marchand when he pushed Vasilevskiy after a whistle. Several players from both teams were involved in a brawl behind the Lightning net and both Cirelli and Marchand eventually got a minor penalty. The Bruins managed to cut the deficit on this 4-on-4. Matt Grzelcyk started a rush after intercepting a puck in their defensive zone, made a pass to Charlie Coyle who skated through the zone, and set up Charlie McAvoy for a goal.
The game completely went off the rails during the last minutes of the period. The Bruins organized pressure around the Lightning net. Vasilevskiy couldn’t cover the puck after McAvoy’s shot and Sean Kuraly pushed it through his legs. At first sight, it seemed like Point managed to keep it out of the net and the game continued for a while but after watching a review, referees confirmed that the puck completely crossed the goal line. The Bruins were back within one goal by the end of period.
Meanwhile, several players got involved in a big fight on the ice, which started when Maroon went after Chara who punched Sergachev in the face a moment before. As a result of multiple fights at the end of the period, Blake Coleman and Eric Cernak were called with a game misconduct. Given the fact that Hedman barely played in this game due to some unknown injury, the Lightning were left with four defencemen for the first half of the first period. On top of that, the Bolts got an extra-penalty, because Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards stepped on the ice during this brawl.
The atmosphere was still very tense in the third period. The players felt it and continued to fight at every small opportunity.
The Lightning extended their lead to two goals on the power play early in the period. Mikhail Sergachev unleashed a one-timer after a Point pass and Alex Killorn tipped the puck into the net.
The Bruins responded five minutes later with another power play goal. David Pastrnak blasted a puck from distance past Andrei Vasilevskiy, scoring his 48th goal of the season and cutting the Lightning lead to one goal.
The Bruins had a modest advantage in shot attempts this period, but the Lightning were better at quality of created opportunities. Despite trying to keep a lead, they controlled 68.99% of expected goals share in the last period.
In an attempt to tie the game, the Bruins pulled the goalie with two minutes left in the period but it only led to an empty-netter by Nikita Kucherov, who stole the puck from David Krejci at the blue line. The Lightning secured a 5-3 win over the Bruins.
Anthony Cirelli: 1-0
Mikhail Sergachev (Yanni Gourde): 2-0
Cedric Paquette (Zach Bogosian, Braydon Coburn): 3-0
Charlie McAvoy (Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk): 3-1
Sean Kuraly (Charlie McAvoy, Ondrej Kase): 3-2
Alex Killorn (Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point): 4-2
David Pastrnak (Torey Krug, Brad Marchand): 4-3
Nikita Kucherov: 5-3