Tyler Johnson scored his biggest goal this season in the final minutes of today’s game to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2. What looked to be a repeat of Monday after losing a two goal lead, Johnson put home a rebound in the final minutes to secure a seed no lower than three.
Bolts take advantage of B’s slow start
Boston came in to today’s game having lost both their exhibition and first round robin game 4-1. Given the dislike present between the two teams, one would expect the bruins to come out flying. However, it was just the opposite. They were a step slow and were not physical as the Lightning replicated a lot of what we saw in the first half of the Washington game. Tampa Bay was strong on the puck and was able to keep Boston hemmed in for a large portion of the first period. Once again, it resulted in the Bolts taking an early lead. At 7:33 of the first, Ondrej Palat fed a cross ice feed to Nikita Kucherov at the side of the net. That attempt would be stopped by Tukka Rask. However, Brayden Point was able to tap the rebound under Rask, off a Bruins’ stick and in. Surging on the momentum, Tampa’s bottom 6 forward group continued the fore-checking pressure and was able to draw a penalty. Not long after, the Bolts capitalized on their second power-play opportunity. Off a clean faceoff win and cycle, Alex Killorn took a Victor Hedman shot off the skate and into the net.
Down 2-0, Boston started to find their physical game. Hitting increased and Blake Coleman and Tory Krug went at it in the first of many fights and scrums. However, the Lightning responded well. Throughout the rest of the first and into the second, the Bolts did a great job of limiting the B’s chances. They blocked shot and kept the bruins to the outside. Defensively, it was almost picture perfect.
Vasilevskiy leaking oil?
A Veizna trophy finalist, Andrei Vasilevskiy is regarded as one of the world’s top goaltenders. Despite this, he has had a clear problem at tracking and holding on to puck. All four goals given up, have trickled through or underneath Vasilevskiy into the back of the net of right to an opposing player for a tap in. They have also been at key times in the game. After cutting the lead in half late in the second, Boston’s game came around. From the last five of the second to halfway through the third, the B’s controlled play. At 1:47 of the third Chris Wagner picked up the puck after it sneaked through Vasilevskiy and tapped it home. As good as Vasilevskiy is, these are saves he needs to make in order for the team to go on a deep playoff run.
PK holds firm
On their heels after giving up another two goal lead, the Bolts found themselves in penalty trouble. Three penalties in quick session threatened to derail a strong effort. However, this was not to be as the penalty kill was spectacular. They blocked shots, disrupted Boston’s flow, and when they didn’t, Vasilevskiy held firm. Tampa went 4/4 on the kill and it shifted momentum back to their side.
Tyler Johnson does it again
Halfway through the third, the Lightning found their game once again. They controlled pace, out shot the Bruins 16 to 9, and held Boston’s top line silent. Tampa’s top line missed a glorious chance on a rebound that somehow stayed out. Just as another overtime seemed eminent, one of Tampa’s most consistent playoff performers stepped up. Yanni Gourde received a tap pass on the blue line and accelerated to the top of the left circle. He fired a shot that rebounded off of Rask’s pad and bounced right onto the stick of a streaking Tyler Johnson who fired it into the back of the net. With just over a minute left Boston had no reply. The Bolts will now seed no lower than third when the first round of the playoffs start.
The Lightning did exactly what they needed to improve on their first performance. They controlled the game early and took the lead. They played solid defensively shutting down Boston’s first line. The biggest improvement however, was how the team responded to losing the lead. In the Washington contest, they were never able regain control and held on for overtime. Today they weathered the storm, played under control and found a way to win in the late stages. Despite not getting Boston’s best effort, the Lightning did what they needed to prove they’re ready for a deep run.
Star of the Game: Tyler Johnson
This is a no brainer. If not for this goal, the outlook of the game could’ve been very different. Although not putting up his usual numbers during the regular season, he has always been a top postseason performer. His two points today gives him 52 career playoff points, which surpasses Vincent Lecavailer for the franchises fourth all-time. Go Johnny Go!
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