May 19, 2011, 11:30 PM EST
When David Krejci scored a little more than a minute into Game 3, it was natural to wonder if we had another wild and wide-open game on our hands. The rest of the first period featured its fair share of defensive lapses and near-scores, but the two teams finally went back to the type of defense-first hockey most of us expected in the last two periods.
That style seemed to suit the Boston Bruins the best, as Patrice Bergeron didn’t miss a beat in his return to playoff action while Tim Thomas earned a 31-save shutout to give the B’s a 2-1 series lead.
Boston 2, Tampa Bay 0; Bruins lead series 2-1
Thomas notched the second shutout of his playoff career in this win. He made some huge stops during this contest, although his defense didn’t hang him out to dry like they did in both home games. There was one play that symbolized that improved work to me: Zdeno Chara made a great play to intercept a pass on what could have been a deadly 2-on-1 play against Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. That odd-man rush had “GOAL” written all over it, but Chara sniffed it out.
Perhaps the biggest story of this series is the outstanding play of Thomas, who is solidifying his place as the best goalie in the world right now. Yes, Boston’s defense was better in Game 3, but the Lightning still put 31 shots on net. Even with some tough moments, Thomas put aside 96 out of 105 shots so far in this series and carried elite numbers into the Eastern Conference finals as well.
Two goals and one controversial penalty call
It’s tough not to throw Victor Hedman under the bus for the first (and ultimately game-winning) goal by Krejci. Hedman left the talented pivot all alone in front of the Lightning net and a sprawling Dwayne Roloson had no chance against a guy with Krejci’s hands. The most impressive part of this goal was Krejci’s patience, as he waited to settle down the puck before putting it past Roloson.
The first period wasn’t all great news for Krejci, as Marc-Andre Bergeron delivered a big (but by almost all accounts, clean) hit on him later on. Bergeron received a widely criticized elbowing penalty for that check, but like many stated, the onus was on Krejci to be aware of where he was on the ice. On the bright side, the Bruins didn’t score on the ensuing power play.
The Bruins didn’t have a ton of trouble bottling up the Lightning attack thanks to more responsible defensive coverage, a middling Tampa Bay effort and great play by Thomas. Boston also was wise to avoid “turtle mode” by continuing to create offense, which allowed Andrew Ference to give the team an 2-0 insurance goal. As we know now, that extra goal ended up being unnecessary.
Outlook for both teams
No doubt about it, the Bruins are a more formidable opponent with their best two-way forward in the lineup. Patrice Bergeron simply looked fantastic tonight. He played more than 19 minutes, went 18 for 28 in the faceoff circle and showed little hesitancy to fight for pucks along the boards.
Boston must be feeling great about this victory, especially since Krejci seemed fine after taking that big hit in the first period. About the only negative is that they were out-shot 15-5 in the third period, but again, they weren’t as passive as that number might indicate.
The Lightning still have some reasons to be concerned, but their outlook would change dramatically with a spirited Game 4 win. They haven’t been down in a series since the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it would be shocking if Tampa Bay bowed out of this one. That being said, falling down 3-1 would be more worrisome against Boston than it was against a limited Pittsburgh squad.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:09 PM EST
Florida’s breathing down Toronto’s neck in the East standings.
Dec 28, 2014, 7:05 PM EST
There are some concussion concerns.
Dec 28, 2014, 6:25 PM EST
Reto Berra might not see much action going forward.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Has been out of St. Louis’ lineup since Nov. 25.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Playing for the first time since Nov. 4
Dec 28, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
Has missed three games with an upper body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
The forward will miss a few weeks with a lower body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Recalled goaltender Christopher Gibson from AHL.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Kevin Poulin returned to Bridgeport.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Has missed the first 35 games of the season.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Boston’s Matt Fraser also on the waiver wire.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Anton Forsberg reassigned to Springfield.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
Rasmus Ristolainen is sick.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
The Dallas forward has been suspended three times in two seasons.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Expected to serve as an extra defenseman as the Canucks visit the Ducks.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:59 AM EST
Darryl Sutter must like what he sees with the advantage.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:03 AM EST
Dec 28, 2014, 12:36 AM EST
Meanwhile, the Rangers are playing OK.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
Battle of California tonight.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:47 PM EST
Some controversy in this game, too.
- Cardiac Cats: Panthers win as Reimer, Leafs fade in third 0
- Report: Canes’ Jordan Staal to make season debut Monday 1
- ‘We can build on this': Devils lose with Lou Lamoriello behind the bench 7
- Video: Nyquist scores OT winner on incredible individual effort 8
- Video: Ovechkin crushes Letang, Capitals cruise by the Penguins 7
- Video: Prout, Lucic drop the gloves in highly anticipated scrap 73
- Video: NHL on NBC panel breaks down the coaching situation in New Jersey 4
- Lou Lamoriello unveils highly unorthodox coaching plan 37
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 3
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 2