Monday, May 23, 2011
Rapid reaction: Bruins 3, Lightning 1
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- The Bruins bounced back from their toughest defeat of the playoffs with a 3-1 win Monday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to take a 3-2 series lead. They now have a chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup berth since 1990 with a win in Game 6 on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay.
Tim Thomas (33 saves) and the penalty kill helped the Bruins weather the storm in the first period, then Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand repaid him with two second-period goals. Rich Peverley added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.
Simon Gagne scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay, and Mike Smith made 17 saves in his first start of the Eastern Conference finals.
Thomas, PK give Bruins a chance. The Bruins were badly outplayed in the first period, getting outshot 14-4, but trailed by only one goal at the first intermission. The reason: Tim Thomas and the penalty kill. Thomas, who has been questioned by some in the media recently, answered any questions that his game was slipping by limiting the Lightning to one goal and keeping his team within striking distance.
Thomas also came up huge in the third period, when the Bruins were outshot 11-8 and Tampa Bay pressured to tie the game. He made a huge, diving stick save on Steve Downie midway through the final frame and finished with 33 saves.
Meanwhile, the penalty kill was doing its job to keep the Lightning off the scoreboard on the power play, killing two power plays in the first period and four overall.
Big Z was huge. In big games, teams need their captains to lead the way, and that’s exactly what Bruins captain Zdeno Chara did Monday night. Chara made a great play keeping the puck in the offensive zone while assisting on Brad Marchand’s second-period goal, and was a force in both the defensive and offensive zone in logging 26:21 of ice time. He was pinching all night, and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
First line delivers. Both David Krejci and Milan Lucic acknowledged after Game 4 that their line, along with Nathan Horton, needed to be better in Game 5. They delivered as Horton scored the Bruins' first goal 4:24 into the second period with Krejci and Lucic assisting. Lucic made a great cross-ice pass to find Horton, who rifled one past Smith.
Marchand gets first point of series. Brad Marchand had been neck and neck with Logan Couture for the league lead in rookie playoff scoring heading into the conference finals, but until his goal in Game 5, Marchand hadn’t registered a point in this series. His goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 15:56 of the second period and proved to be the game winner. The Bruins rookie winger now trails Couture by two points with 12.
Bergeron continues to roll. After a two-goal performance in Game 4, Patrice Bergeron got on the score sheet again, assisting on Marchand’s goal. Bergeron has registered a point in two of the three games he’s played in the series and has been the Bruins' best positional player in the playoffs. He now has 15 points and is a candidate for the Conn Smythe award as MVP of the playoffs.
Game 5s pivotal for Bruins. The Bruins are 17-4 when leading a playoff series 3-2 and 2-16 when trailing 3-2. The Lightning are 2-0 when leading 3-2 and 2-2 when trailing by that count.
Smith gets the nod. After shutting down the Bruins in the last two periods of Game 4 with 21 saves and not allowing a goal when he played in the third period of Game 2, Smith got the nod over Dwayne Roloson in net for Tampa Bay. Smith had come on in relief of Roloson both times and seemed to calm his teammates down.
Boychuk hurt. Johnny Boychuk left the game with 9:06 left in regulation after taking a late hit behind the Bruins' net from Lightning forward Steve Downie. Downie was called for boarding on the play. There was no information on Boychuk’s status.