The Tampa Bay Lightning came out strong and never relented, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 3 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning faced a serious challenge tonight. After picking up a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 on Monday night, the Lightning made their way to the TD Garden to take on the Bruins in Game 3 in their house. As any Lightning fan knows, picking up a win in their house is no easy task.
The Lightning started their assault on the Bruins early on in the game. Just 1:47 in the game, the Lightning made their way into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 and forward Ondrej Palat was able to catch Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask completely unaware and capture an early lead for the Bolts.
A little under two minutes later, the Lightning would strike once again. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would take a shot from just outside the circle which would deflect off Palat and beat Rask once again, giving Palat his second goal of the game and fourth of the postseason.
This is the exact start the Lightning needed tonight. The Bruins are hard to beat in their house and getting them off their game early is an essential component to bringing home the victory; especially with a goaltender like Tuukka Rask between the pipes.
The Lightning continued to put some serious pressure on the Bruins as the period continued. Unfortunately, a simple mistake would give the Bruins the opportunity they needed to get in the game.
Tampa Bay Lightning
At 13:43 in the period, Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman was sent to the sin bin for Tripping against Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. The Bolts penalty kill wasn’t quite strong enough to keep the Bruins away from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and out of the back of the net. A goal from Patrice Bergeron would cut the Lightning’s lead over the Bruins down to a single goal.
The good news here is, the Lightning wasn’t content with walking into the first intermission with a mere one-goal lead. With under four minutes left in the period, Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli would pick up his first-ever NHL postseason goal with assists from new father Yanni Gourde and defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
When the buzzer sounded to end the first period of play, the Lightning would lead the Bruins 3-1. This is not the only place in which the Bolts would outmatch the Bruins in the first 20 minutes of play. The Bolts would outshoot the Bruins 19-14 in the first period. When it came to the faceoff circle, both teams were pretty evenly matched.
Unfortunately, the Lightning seemed to let off the gas when they returned to the ice for the second period of play. The Bolts allowed far too many scoring chances and essentially allowed the Bruins to control the pace of the game for much of the period.
Things between these two teams reached a boiling point around 15:12 in the second period. Bruins forward David Backes would deliver a questionable hit to Dan Girardi. Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was having none of this and immediately went after Backes in defense of his teammate.
Regrettably, Paquette would come out on the losing end of this one (and not because he lost the fight.) Paquette would get called to the carpet for a total of three penalties; an Instigator penalty, Fighting major, and a Misconduct penalty. On the other side of the ice, Backes would get sacked with five for Fighting.
Seconds later, everyone’s favorite player, Brad Marchand, would get busted for slashing the hands of Stralman. This would give the Lightning another crack at the Power Play. This is something the Lightning has had absolutely no luck with as of late.
The good news here is despite their shortcomings in the second period, the Lightning was able to hold on to their 3-1 lead over the Bruins. Much like the first period of play, the Lightning would outshoot the Bruins – this time by 11-8 for a two-period total of 30-22 in favor of the Bolts.
If the Lightning wanted to hold onto their lead and bring home a victory in this encounter, they would have to do a much better job of controlling the pace of the game and limiting the scoring opportunities of the Bruins. Oh…and maybe stay out of the box.
While the Bolts would be better in the third, the Bruins still had plenty of quality chances in the Lightning zone. Andrei Vasilevskiy was forced to make a number of tremendous saves in order to keep the Lightning’s two-goal lead intact as they headed into the final minutes of the third period.
The Bruins would give it everything they had in the final minutes of the period, which included pulling Tuukka Rask with less than three minutes left in the period. Unfortunately, it would be a classic example of “too little, too late” for the Bruins.
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would score his first goal of the series as he hit the empty net to give the Lightning a three-goal lead over the Bruins and essentially assure the Bolts victory. It was plain to see by the look on his face it was a relief to break this particular slump.
Stamkos can pose some serious danger to his opponents once he finds his zone. The Bruins can ill-afford a breakout performance by Stammer as they look to finish out their homestand on a high note. Of course, if the Lightning has anything to say about it, this is exactly how this story is going to end.
The high point of this game came in the Lightning’s consistency. Sure, there were a few bumps in the road along the way, but when all was said and done, the Bolts gave the Bruins very little room to make a move. The Lightning will have to come into Game 4 with the same intensity if they want to seriously seize control of the series before heading home to Tampa.
The Bolts will have tomorrow off to prepare for Game 4. Then, on Friday night the Lightning will be back to business once again as they make their way back into the TD Garden for Game 4. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00 p.m.
Everyone here in the Bolts Nation is hoping the Lightning shows the same intensity on Friday night as they did tonight. If they can manage to control the pace of the game and continue to be aggressive with the puck, the Bolts will be in a very good position when the series heads back to Tampa on Sunday.