Tired Tampa Bay Lightning team dominated by Boston Bruins in 4-1 loss
Bolts lose for just the third time this month.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost in regulation for the first time this month to the Boston Bruins 4-1. Both teams came into the game on big winning streaks. Ten games for the Lightning. Nine games for the Bruins. But the Lightning were on the second half of a back to back and playing their third game in four days with travel between all three. That showed and dampened what could have been a fun game between two teams playing well.
The Lightning were never in the game. They were gassed from the opening puck drop following their overtime victory over the Rangers the previous night. They looked to be playing in slow motion as Boston dominated the game. Louis Domingue did his best to keep the Bolts in it but even a near perfect effort from him through 45 minutes wasn’t enough to make the Lightning ever look like a threat to win the game.
The Lightning started ok and actually got the first good scoring chance of the game. On his first shift, Nikita Kucherov set up Anthony Cirelli in the slot but Tuuka Rask made the save. After that, the Bruins took over the game.
For the first half of the period, they didn’t generate many dangerous chances but dominated possession keeping the puck in the Lightning zone for extended stretches. When the Bolts did get the puck, they frequently had to dump and change or settle for poor one and done shots that didn’t hit the net.
The only good moment for the Lightning during this part of the game came when Kucherov showcased some wizardry in the offensive zone skating through multiple Bruins and eventually creating a chance for himself. But as would be the theme in this game, if Kuch wasn’t making plays for Tampa, no one was.
Newly acquired Charlie Coyle got a good look in front of the net for Boston with about eight minutes left in the period but Louis Domingue made the save. Domingue coming up big and keeping the Lightning in the game also became a theme as the game progressed.
But not even Domingue would have had a chance to stop the Bruins’ best chance of the first period. David Backes had an opportunity to collect a rebound with the Bolts’ goaltender completely out of position. But Ryan McDonagh beat him to the puck and won the 50/50 battle to keep Boston off the scoreboard.
Mathieu Joseph got one final chance in the first for the Lightning using his speed to create a breakaway. His shot clanged off the post.
At the end of the first period, Boston had a big lead in shots and expected goals.
As much as the Bruins dominated the first period, they poured it on even more in the second. It started with a David Krejci rush chance following a Mikhail Sergachev turnover in the neutral zone just two minutes into the period.
The Lightning did have their best shift of the game in the first part of the period. Again, Nikita Kucherov was the driving force. He, Brayden Point, and Tyler Johnson along with Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman kept the puck in the Bruins zone long enough to tire out their skaters and draw a penalty.
But on the power play, they couldn’t do anything. They never got set up in the offensive zone and never got a shot on net. After that, things really went sideways for the Lightning
Jake DeBrusk got it going with a breakaway chance but Louis Dominge made the save. The Bruins then drew their first power play of the game and unlike the Lightning, they didn’t waste it. DeBrusk immediately created a two on one rush forcing Domingue to make another difficult save. And seconds later, he rushed in again and fired a shot that deflected off Stralman’s stick and into the net to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins didn’t relent after taking the lead. They continued to apply heavy pressure creating multiple scrums in front of Domingue. Jake DeBrusk seemed to be everywhere in the second half of the period creating several dangerous chances.
The only reason the Lightning made it to the third period still trailing by just one was because of Louis Domingue. He was the star of the game for Tampa and kept them from being blown out.
At the end of the second period, the Bruins still held a huge lead in shots and expected goals.
The third period was more of the same but eventually, the dam broke and goals flooded the Lightning net. Much like the first period, it started with a good shift for Tampa led by Kucherov. He created several chances but none of them beat Rask and after that, the Bruins dominated.
The first golden chance came to Joakim Nordstrom who had half the net to shoot at but managed to fire it to an area where Louis Domingue could rob whim with a glove save. Minutes later, Brad Marchand set up Charlie McAvoy for a wide open look from the slot. But again, Domingue made the save.
The chances kept coming for Boston. Krejci got the next one on a two on one rush with Marcus Johansson. They had Domingue beat but the final pass slid just ahead of Krejci’s stick and he couldn’t direct it into the net.
Just shy of the halfway point of the period, the Bruins got another power play. The Lightning created a good shorthanded rush but Yanni Gourde tried to pass the puck across the slot instead of shooting and created a two on one back the other direction. Patrice Bergeron passed to Marchand but they couldn’t combine to beat Domingue.
After the power play expired, the dam finally broke. First, Noel Acciari picked up a rebound and fired the puck past Domingue to extend the lead to 2-0.
And then in short succession, Bergeron scored from the right circle and Marchand scored on a breakaway. Domingue had played great all game but eventually, the pressure overwhelmed him and the lead exploded to 4-0 in just a few minutes of play.
Anthony Cirelli got one back for the Lightning redirecting a point shot from Ondrej Palat to prevent Rask from getting a shutout but that was as much as the Lightning could muster. And given the degree to which they were outplayed, they deserved the three goal loss.
This was a schedule loss. That didn’t make it any more fun to watch but it does make it understandable. There aren’t any positives to take from a game like this but conversely, not many negatives either. Boston is a good team playing well. A tired Tampa team was never likely to beat them.
Boston destined for a first round showdown with the Leafs. If the Bolts can win their first-round series, they’ll face the winner. But before then, they have two more games with Boston before the end of the season. A chance to respond to this game and to build up the rivalry for a potential playoff meeting.
The Lightning get just one day off before their next game, which will be back home against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.