It was physical, chippy, and downright nasty at times. But if there was any notion that the Tampa Bay Lightning were going to let anyone, especially the Boston Bruins push them around, that was put to bed Saturday night. The Bolts entered their final clash with Boston having won two of the first three meetings this season. On Tuesday, Boston got the better of the Bolts in a 2-1 decision in Tampa. Just four days later, the series shifted back to Beantown for the 4th and final battle of the season.
Penalty killers make early statement
Tampa Bay came in fresh off a 4-0 shutout victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night and looked to take the season series from the Bruins for the 2nd year in a row. Boston entered Saturday night on a four game winning streak, 9 points ahead of the Lightning in the division. From the game’s early minutes, this one lived up to its billing and did not disappoint.
At 5:01 of the first period, Barclay Goodrow took an elbowing penalty, sending Boston to the game’s first power play. In a lone wolf effort, Anthony Cirelli took control of the defensive zone faceoff and skated up the ice. The rush quickly became a 2 on 1 with Alex Killorn on the opposite side. Opting to finish the play himself, Cirell fired a wrist shot by Tuukka Rask to give Tampa Bay the early 1-0 lead and quiet the stunned crowd at TD Garden.
Just over a minute later, on the same penalty kill, the Bolts lit the lamp again. This time, Cedric Paquette overpowered Torey Krug and took control of the puck as Krug was exiting his own zone. The loose puck was scooped up by Yanni Gourde who split 2 Bruins on a sharp pass to Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev converted on his clean look at the net to put the Lightning up 2-0. With 52 seconds still left to kill on the penalty, Tampa Bay sent an early message to the Bruins.
1:02 later and Sergy gets in on the action. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cYYwBgWjiT
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 8, 2020
Bruins claw their way back in physical, chippy second period
Seven minutes into the second period, Cedric Paquette gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. Zach Bogosian found Paquette from behind the net and Paquette converted his golden opportunity from directly in front of Rask. The Lightning lead remained 3-0 until the Bruins finally showed signs of life with 5:10 to go in the period. Charlie McAvoy put Boston on the board during a 4 on 4 opportunity with Cirelli and Brad Marchand serving offsetting roughing penalties. The last few minutes of the period were winding down, but the real action had yet to come.
With 1:06 to go in the period, the green light illuminated and the siren went off at TD Garden. The reason? Toronto saw a Sean Kuraly goal that the in game officials did not see. When play stopped for the review, an all out brawl ensued on the ice.
What started with a quick takedown of Zdeno Chara by Pat Maroon quickly got out of control. Anthony Cirelli and Charlie Coyle got tangled up which got the attention of Alex Killorn, who also wanted a piece of Coyle. Sean Kuraly, who was back on the bench after his shift that resulted in the goal in question, flew off the bench and charged at Alex Killorn. Meanwhile, just a few feet away, Erik Cernak was using Charlie McAvoy as his personal punching bag. By this time, Zdeno Chara had found his way back onto his skates and wanted another piece of Maroon, who obliged and was happy to return Chara back to his horizontal position on the ice he had just gotten up from.
Penalties assessed and hockey resumes
When the dust settled, Maroon and Chara receieved 5 minute fighting majors and Cernak and Kuraly received 10 minute misconducts. Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards was ejected from the game and Tampa Bay issued a delay of game penalty as a result. Boston finished the second period on a power play, but a Brad Marchand slashing penalty at the end of the period nullified it going into the third. Marchand and Blake Coleman also received 10 minute misconducts at the end of the period.
After a brief 4 on 4 to start the third period, the Lightning went on the power play thanks to the Marchand penalty carried over from period two. Alex Killorn extended the Bolts lead to 4-2 with a tip in of a Mikhail Sergachev one timer. The goal was Killorn’s 26th of the season as he continues to add numbers to a career year.
David Pastrnak answered with a power play goal of his own at 6:37 by blasting a one timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Boston made it interesting in the game’s final minutes but Tampa Bay held on, adding a Kucherov empty net goal to take a 5-3 decision from the Bruins.
Final thoughts on the game
This was the biggest statement game in recent memory for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The win clinched another season series over the Bruins, 3-1. The message was also sent that this is a different Lightning team than Boston has seen in years passed. The Lightning have regularly had a deep aresneal of offensive weapons and stellar goaltending. But with improved defensive play, the addition of some gritty players and a new physical mentality, this team will not be pushed around. Boston may very well be on their way to a President’s Trophy, but after last night it is clear that Tampa Bay has something else on their mind. The Bolts are back in action Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesar’s arena. Puck drops at 5:00PM.
Three stars of the game
With as intense and chippy as that game was, let’s take a different approach to the three stars for this one.
- Pat Maroon
- Anthony Cirelli
- Erik Cernak
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