TAMPA — Well, Lightning didn’t strike twice for the Boston Bruins Monday night.
The Tampa Bay Lightning proverbially brought the thunder by outmuscling and outworking the Black and Gold in front of their home crowd at Amalie Arena. The opportunistic Bolts created havoc by getting into the Bruins’ faces and used the transition game to their advantage.
Despite being outmuscled and forcing turnovers, the Bruins still had their opportunities to make things interesting. Tuukka Rask, despite misplaying Tyler Johnson’s go-ahead goal, kept his team in it with 27 saves. But the Black and Gold dug a deep hole and wound up on the wrong end of the 4-2 final in Game 2.
Here is what we learned as the series shifts back to Boston tied at one game apiece.
The Bruins got pretty banged up as the Lightning delivered 42 hits, but there’s one sore spot that they couldn’t overcome. It wasn’t a slow start where they were outshot 10-0 in the first but found a way to answer Yanni Gourde’s second of the postseason at 11:47 with Charlie McAvoy’s first career playoff goal at 18:30, but rather the turnovers that proved costly.
Two cough-ups, in particular, came at a time where the Bruins were pushing to establish momentum on the high-octane Bolts. The first was a David Pastrnak turnover that led to Tyler Johnson’s second period go-ahead goal on a 2-on-1 where both Rask and Charlie McAvoy whiffed on a chance to block the shot or make the ensuing save.
The second costly mistake came minutes after the Bruins killed Pastrnak’s double-minor for high sticking when Marchand misplayed the puck and Ondrej Palat fired home his second of the playoffs to give some Bolts some breathing room at 14:08 of the third.
“We didn’t play great, especially early,” Marchand said following a two-assist and minus-1 outing. “We turned some pucks over against a good team and they’re going to capitalize at some point, so we have to respect the game a little better.”
It wasn’t Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov that made the Bruins pay, but rather their secondary scorers like Palat, Johnson, Gourde and Brayden Point (one goal, three assists) that capitalized on their chances.
The Bruins also missed their chances to build momentum
They were outhit and outworked, but the Bruins had their chances to swing the momentum on their side, and couldn’t capitalize.
From Pastrnak (hit post) and David Krejci (robbed by Andrei Vasilevskiy) missing golden opportunities on a first period 5-on-3 power play, to failing to build off McAvoy’s late first-period tally and coming out empty following a timely four-minute penalty kill — with Pastrnak in the box for high-sticking — the Bruins just couldn’t get that one moment to change things in their favor.
“You always want to use those moments as chances to get back into the game, and we obviously couldn’t,” Torey Krug said after notching his third of the postseason at 15:58 of the third. “Those are big parts of the game, and you want to grab that momentum when you get it.”
Puck possession a needed area of improvement as the series shifts to Boston
Game 1’s 6-2 final wasn’t an indication of how close the Lightning played the Bruins. Game 2, however, indicated just how strong the Lightning pushed back.
There are some common themes from those two games. The Bolts had more chances and developed a significant attacking time advantage over the Black and Gold. Their 67 shots on goal through two games, compared to the B’s 44, is one glaring stat line that the Bruins hope to change as the series shifts to TD Garden for Game 3 Wednesday night.
“Well we want possession and we want to play with the puck more,” McAvoy said. “Obviously we want to take care of it in our own end, and at times that’s flipping pucks and playing high-percentage hockey, but, you know, they are such a skilled, deep team that we just don’t want to give them the puck back because they’ll get chances like they do. So, we want to possess it more, and we want to play our brand of hockey, and that’s possessing it.”
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