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In Pivotal Game 4, the Lightning behind two Ondrej Palat goals win 3-1 to take a 3-1 Series lead

The Tampa Bay Lightning met the Boston Bruins today in a Game 4 matinee. After a very efficient 3-1 win this afternoon, the Lightning took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.  Ondrej Palat scored two goals so the Lightning are now one victory away from punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Palat remains Hot

Maybe it was the noon start time but as the puck dropped, both teams began playing tentatively.  As the first period went on, the play opened up. After a couple of odd man rushes and a Victor Hedman slap shot ringing off the post, Palat opened the scoring at 8:59 with his third goal in three games to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Brayden Point got the only assist on the goal.

Boston determined to get back in the game began to take more control of the puck.  They were out-shooting Tampa in the opening period. The momentum killers for the Bruins were two penalties they had to kill in the second half of the first period.  Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins held a 9-8 shot lead despite having to kill those four minutes of penalties. Still holding on to the 1-0 lead, the Lightning’s Erik Cernak committed a penalty.  He was whistled for a roughing penalty as the horn sounded and a scrum began to end the first period.

Second Verse, Same as the First

As the second frame began, the Lightning had to kill off that Cernak penalty. The pace of the game continued to be picking up on both sides. Obviously, the next goal would be huge for either team. If it’s the Bruins that score, they tie it up and the ice begins tilting their way.  If the Lightning score, they go up by two in the middle frame holding a 2-1 series lead and they have the momentum.

After the midway point of the period, the tide began shifting towards the Lightning.  At 12:29 of the period, Anthony Cirelli dropped a soft pass to Palat, who blasted a slap shot.  It was a seeing-eye puck that went past Jaroslav Halak for Palat’s second goal of the game.  So, this put the Lightning ahead 2-0.  In addition to Cirelli, NiIkita Kucherov earned a helper on Palat’s fourth goal in the last three games.

Frightening Hit

A scary moment occurred late in the second period.  The Bruins’ Nick Ritchie laid a hit on Yanni Gourde with less than three minutes before the second intermission.  Luckily for Gourde and the Lightning, after being prone on the ice for several minutes, Gourde came back to play in the final period. Though, he will be feeling the effects of that hit for some time to be sure.,

As a result of the hit, Ritchie earned a five minute major boarding penalty.  Perhaps he even may get a call from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.  Gourde had made a breakout pass out of the Lightning zone and Ritchie was slightly behind and to Gourde’s blind side. The hit forced Gourde to hit the boards awkwardly.  After leaving on his own power, Gourde played in the final frame and didn’t look any worse for wear.

Taking advantage of the major penalty, Hedman scored a power play goal at 18:04 of the second to give the Lightning a 3-0 comfortable lead as the teams got ready to head for the third period. Tyler Johnson and Kucherov earned the assists on the goal.

The Final Solution

Entering the third period, the Lightning again were on the penalty kill. Zach Bogosian was called for a holding penalty as the second period was coming to a close.  After killing the penalty, the Lightning were faced with the Bruins biggest push of the game. In the period, the B’s outshot the Bolts 11-6.  Fortunately for the Lightning, the Bruins couldn’t sustain their offensive attack.

Jake DeBrusk did score for the Bruins at 7:04 of the third with Charlie Coyle and Matt Grzelcyk each with an assist.  The goal cut the Lightning lead to two which made the game more interesting but ultimately the Bruins couldn’t muster enough offense and failed to score another goal.

The Lightning played tight defense in front of their goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and he was on throughout the game. Controlling the rebounds, facing a breakaway and the seemingly late whistles when he attempted to cover the puck, Vasilevskiy played like the Vezina Trophy finalist he is this year.

Coming Attractions

Taking the game by a count of 3-1 propels the Lightning to a 3-1 series lead.  Game 5 is scheduled for Monday night at 7 pm.  Clearly, this is a must win for the Bruins because a win for the Lightning and the series is over.  Regardless of what happens in this series both teams will be leaving the Toronto bubble. So, if the Lightning win, The Bruins will be going home and setting up tee times but it also means the Lightning will head to the Edmonton bubble and await the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Three Stars of the Game

First Star – Ondrej Palat, two goals.

Second Star – Nikita Kucherov, two assists

Third Star – Andrei Vasilevskiy, 29 saves, one goal allowed, 96.7% save percentage

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