2011 NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 - Boston 6, Tampa Bay 5 – Series tied, 1-1
The bad news first for the Boston Bruins: Their goaltender has played two horrid games. The good news? The boys from Beantown lost only one of those contests.
The bad news first for the Tampa Bay Lightning: They lost Tuesday night in New England, failing to get a 2-0 series lead and come home to the Sunshine State with a hammer-lock grip on a playoff series. The good news? This very much looks like the Bolts’ series to lose.
A distinct mélange of interlocking tensions and competing factors is at work after the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. Boston scored a must-have victory over Tampa Bay at TD Garden, but this was not the kind of convincing conquest which suggests that the winning team owns a full head of steam heading to Florida for Games 3 and 4. In many ways, the most outstanding feature of this game was not Boston’s five-goal second period, which just barely held up, but the way Tampa Bay controlled the third period and very nearly forced overtime in a game that had a 1980s feel to it.
Yes, when Boston’s Michael Ryder scored two goals in the final four minutes of the second period, with the back end of that 1-2 punch coming with 19 seconds left before the intermission, it seemed that the Lightning were done and dusted. Down 6-3, the Lightning only had 20 minutes to make up their deficit, not 40. Considering the urgency on the Boston bench and the fact that this was a road game for the fifth-seeded Lightning, the prospects of forcing overtime were slim to none.
Yet, the Bolts almost caught… well… Lightning in a bottle.
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As the third period unfolded, every loose puck seemingly went to a white-shirted Tampa Bay player, and even on the few occasions when a black-shirted Bruin gained the puck, the Lightning were able to poke-check the frozen rubber into open ice and reclaim it for a counter-rush. Several times, the Bruins should have been able to clear their own zone while the Lightning exerted pressure, but Boston simply couldn’t maintain control of the puck for the extra two or three seconds needed to extricate the puck from a dangerous position. Tampa Bay’s continuous ability to harass Boston’s puckhandlers gained the Lightning at least seven extra shots in the third period. The visitors peppered Boston goalie Tim Thomas, and the 37-year-old sagged under the assault. Thomas, who was awful in Game 1 on Saturday, wasn’t much better in this game. He allowed two third-period goals to Tampa, one from Steven Stamkos at 3:47 and the other to Dominic Moore at 13:15. Boston, once in control, was knocked off its heels for all of the last 20 minutes, and it was only because Thomas regrouped at crunch time that the Bs made their six-goal outpouring stand up.
Tyler Seguin scored two goals and assisted on two more for the Bruins, who discovered ways to outfox Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson, who was pulled after the second period on Tuesday. Boston’s superior performance in the middle period was enough to overcome a wobbly first period (in which Tampa Bay outscored the Bs by a 2-1 count) and that lifeless third period in which the Bolts almost pulled off a tying three-goal rally.
It’s on to Game 3. Will Tampa restore order, or can Boston finally get the quality goaltending that’s been missing through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals?
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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