The Bruins were so close to tying the series until an unlikely goalscorer won the game in overtime.
In what could have called a must-win Game 4, the Bruins were able to come back from a 2 goal deficit to hold a 3-2 lead midway through the final period. They weren’t able to hang on and now are down 3-1 and one more loss ends their season. An absolute gut-punch of a loss and now heading back to Tampa, where they can close out the series, things don’t look good.
But, I still believe.
Call me crazy but the Bruins can play with the Lightning and honestly, with the way they’ve played this whole season, I’m not ready to say this team is dead. They’ve come back to win games they shouldn’t have, they won Game 7 against Toronto after dropping Games 5 and 6 and after trailing heading into the 3rd period, I haven’t given up yet. They haven’t quit all year and I don’t expect for them to start now.
The Bruins had the two best chances early, but they were shots from the blueline easily saved by Vasilevskiy. David Pastrnak, after going shotless in Game 3 made sure that wouldn’t happen again, as he had 2 shots early in the game. Rick Nash had a tough opening frame as his second giveaway in the first 5 minutes led to a Tampa counterattack and their first goal. Brayden Point collected the puck after Nash’s turnover, dangled between Chara and McAvoy and dragged the puck through Rask for the games opening tally.
Since the playoffs got underway the Bruins have struggled with turnovers and that trend has continued from the Toronto series, all the way to this game. It seems like every game, a bad turnover at the defensive blue line or neutral zone leads to a dangerous chance and usually a goal.
Rick Nash continued to struggle early, as a few minutes after Point’s goal, he was called for tripping and the Bruins were shorthanded. Tampa Bay had control for almost the man advantage and it appeared as the Bruins were able to kill off the penalty, but with 19 seconds remaining in the penalty, Chara shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game. Rask made a big save on the 5 on 3, but the bolts broke through, this time courtesy of Nikita Kucherov. His first point of the series came on an absolute rocket off a Hedman coss ice pass, doubling the Lightning lead 10 minutes in.
After 2 Tampa powerplays, it was Boston’s turn on the man advantage as Yanni Gourde tripped Matt Grzelcyk. The B’s powerplay was unsuccessful this time around, but Steven Stamkos was whistled for an illegal check to the head and the Bruins went back on the powerplay.
On the second attempt, Boston did convert. Torey Krug’s point blast was blocked out in front and David Pastrnak batted the airborne puck out of the air, cutting the lead in half.
The Lightning had some chances to regain their 2 goal advantage but failed to capitalize on some great chances, including Nikita Kucherov hitting the crossbar on a breakaway. The opening 20 minutes ended, with the B’s down 2-1.
Pasta’s strong game continued into the second, as he drew a tripping penalty on Tyler Johnson just 43 seconds into the period. Some slick passing by the Bruins tied the game up at 2, as the B’s converted on the man advantage once again. Torey Krug received the puck when he was behind the end line from Bergeron and sent the puck back to Bergeron who wired the puck past Vasilevskiy tying the game at 2.
Right after the goal, Vasilevskiy robbed Tim Schaller with a great save, and Rask robbed Stamkos with a glove save on his breakaway attempt. Rick Nash tripped Stamkos again, and for the third time this game, the B’s were going to be shorthanded. An impressive PK followed as Boston was able to limit Tampa’s chances and kept the game tied.
Torey Krug rang iron later in the frame on a point shot, as Boston dominated Tampa in shots in the middle frame. The period was a very physical affair, as Charlie McAvoy delivered some serious checks to Lightning players into the boards, and Marchand checked Ryan Callahan, which was called a low bridge hit on the NBC Sports broadcast. In the scrum that followed, Marchand licked Callahan. The period ended with the game tied at 2 after a great period by the B’s.
An unfortunate trend in this series has been the terrible officiating. That trend continued as the refs had awful calls for both teams. First, Noel Acciari was called for “hooking” Victor Hedman. It was completely embellishment on Hedman as Acciari barely touched him, but the refs called it and Tampa had another powerplay. But, it was the Bruins who capitalized. Brad Marchand sped down the wing and centered the puck to Patrice Bergeron who tipped the puck past Vasilevskiy, giving the Bruins their first lead since Game 1.
A bad call on the Bruins was followed by a bad call on the bolts. Tyler Johnson “speared” Zdeno Chara and while it was a closer call than Acciari’s, I think Chara went down a little easier than normal, but I could be wrong, I usually am about most things.
The B’s didn’t score on the powerplay, and focused on closing out the game. A scary incident happened, as Torey Krug went awkwardly into the boards and his ankle bent in a way it’s not supposed to and he went down the Bruins tunnel.
The refs had another bad call in this period, again on the Bruins. Charlie McAvoy tried to turn around his net, but the free hand of Nikita Kucherov pulled McAvoy down and the puck went to J.T. Miller who set up Steven Stamkos for a one-timer that was blasted by Rask to tie the game at 3. The play on McAvoy was much closer to a penalty than the other two calls and this time cost the B’s.
We would head to OT as both teams couldn’t beat either goalie after the Lightning’s tying goal.
Boston had the early chance as McAvoy’s shot was blocked by Cedric Paquette’s outstretched hand. Tampa would end the game shortly after as Ryan Donato couldn’t get the puck out and Dan Girardi tipped an Alex Killorn centering pass past Rask to win the game 4-3.
- I know hindsight is 20/20 but why was Brian Gionta playing tonight? He hadn’t played all playoffs and I’m not sure he was one of the changes this team needed.
- Speaking of hindsight and lineup changes, does Girardi’s winner happen if that was Heinen and Riley Nash instead of Donato and Gionta? Both Heinen and Nash are better along the boards and in front of goal in the defensive end and may have prevented the OT winner.
- It looks like Krug will miss the rest of the series and if they advance the playoffs, so Nick Holden will slot in and will presumably take Krug’s spot next to Kevan Miller.
- On a brighter note, Bergeron and Pastrnak played really well tonight, if the B’s have any hope of climbing out of the 3-1 hole, this top line will be the driving force behind it.
- Back at it again for possibly the last time this season on Sunday.