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Bolts put Bruins on the brink with thrilling Game 4 OT victory

Since losing 6-2 in the opening game of their second round series against the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning have outscored Boston by a combined score of 8-3 in Games 2 and 3, taking a 2-1 series lead. Looking to take a stranglehold on the series in Game 4, the Bolts sought to repeat their strong start from Game 3.

In fact, they did just that, taking an early 2-0 lead for the second time in as many games. However, unlike Game 3, victory didn’t come easy for the Lightning at TD Garden for Game 4. On the strength of a third period goal by Steven Stamkos and an overtime goal from Dan Girardi, the Lightning came away with a 4-3 win in Boston, giving them a 3-1 series lead and putting the Bruins on the brink of elimination.

Early on, Tampa Bay appeared as though they would repeat their Game 3 performance.

Brayden Point netted the first goal for the Bolts unassisted when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, drove to the goal, and beat Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in an effort that showcased his stunning display of talent.  Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov increased the Lightning’s lead to 2-0 with a one-timer on a power play with the assists going to Victor Hedman and Stamkos.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, this seemed to be the last swing of momentum in their favor until the third period. The Bruins got on the board later in the first period during a power play chance. A bouncing puck went up into the air, where Boston’s David Pastrnak batted it out of the air and into the net, cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1.

Boston continued their assault on the Bolts throughout the second period, maintaining the edge in shots on goal and puck possession into the third period as well.

Patrice Bergeron, who tied the game in the second period with a power play goal, gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead in the third with a shorthanded goal, redirecting a pass from Brad Marchand past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off a rush and into the net. Speaking of Marchand, he reverted to his usual controversial antics as this game got nastier. Following a clean hit by Ondrej Palat on a Bruins’ player, Marchand attempted a low hit on Ryan Callahan. This drew the ire of Callahan, who repeatedly threw gloved punches at Marchand’s face. In response, Marchand licked Callahan. You read that right. That’s not a typo. He licked Callahan in the face.

This isn’t the first time Marchand has attempted to lick an opposing player, as it happened in the first round against Toronto. No penalty was called on the play, but the officials had a word with Marchand about his antics.

Despite the post-whistle shenanigans, Tampa Bay found a way to tie the game late in the third period.

Kucherov’s forecheck led to a turnover by Charlie McAvoy, and while some people thought there should’ve been an interference penalty on Kucherov, the officials felt otherwise and let the teams play on. Seconds later, Stamkos ripped one of his patented one-timers from the slot, beating Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and tying the game 3-3 with 7:04 left.  The shot was an absolute rocket and might be the most crucial goal so far in the 2018 playoffs. The game-winner came in OT from the stick of Girardi, who drove to the front of the net looking for a centering pass from Alex Killorn.  Killorn’s pass bounced off the stick of Brian Gionta before hitting Girardi’s stick and ending up in the back of the net 3:18 into overtime.

Both of these teams left everything on the ice, and Boston looked particularly tired at the end of the game.  The Lightning are in a similar situation to what they saw against New Jersey in the first round. However, Boston has already fought a grueling first round series against Toronto and might not have much left in the tank.

Tampa Bay looks to close out the series at Amalie Arena Sunday afternoon. Puck drops at 3 pm.

Game Notes

-The Bolts are now 6-1 in the playoffs when scoring the first goal of the game.

-Girardi’s overtime goal was his first career playoff OT goal.

-Kucherov’s goal in the first period was also his first point of the series.

-The Bruins out-shot the Lightning 32-28, marking the first game in the series in which Boston had the edge in shots on goal.

-The Lightning are now 12-10 all-time in Game 4’s, including a 9-3 mark in Game 4’s on the road.

Our Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Dan Girardi – Scored the first postseason overtime game-winning goal of his career.

2nd Star: Patrice Bergeron – Tallied a power play goal and a shorthanded goal.

3rd Star: Steven Stamkos – Tied the game 3-3 in the third period and added an assist.

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