Through two games of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Boston Bruins are in pretty good shape. With the series shifting from Tampa to Boston, the Bruins have stolen home ice and look to take a stranglehold of the series with two games at the Garden. A place they have thrived thus far through the playoffs. However, with all the said, it just doesn’t seem like it has been enough for this team.
The Lightning looked better in game two and seem to have rid themselves of the sluggish play that plagued them in game one. However, aside from the first 13 minutes of game two, the Bruins were the better team. And they were good enough to win that game despite the slow start.
“They started really well tonight,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after the loss on Monday. “Clearly they were the better team the first 10 minutes. Our goaltender held us in. We found our game. The 5-on-3 [power play late in the first], we didn’t score, but it at least got us back in the game feeling the puck, got our D a little bit of rest. Kind of picked it up from there.”
It could have been a different story had it not been for the play of Tuukka Rask early on. Nonetheless, the Bruins were in a 1-1 game until two miscues in the third led to two Lightning goals. First, a turnover from David Pastrnak in the offensive zone led to a break for the Lightning and Brayden Point found the back of the net just moments later at the other end of the ice. The goal gave Tampa a 2-1 lead. Just a few minutes later, it was 3-1 by virtue of a turnover from Brad Marchand right on the edge of the defensive zone. A few seconds later Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning a two-goal lead.
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The Bruins were able to get a goal back, but an empty-netter with 30 seconds left was the final nail in the coffin for Boston. When the final horn blew, the Bruins had blown a great opportunity to go back home up 2-0. In addition to their costly turnovers, they once again failed to capitalize on their chances. Something that extended the Toronto series far beyond what it should have gone.
Fortunately for the Bruins, they are on their way back to Boston. At home, they are 3-1 this postseason. In those four games, they have scored a total of 22 goals, including a pair of seven-goal outbursts. In addition, heading home gives the Bruins the benefit of having the last change. Thus far, the Bruins have been able to shut down Tampa’s top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and J.T. Miller. Now, they will better be able to play the matchup game both offensively and defensively.
The Bruins will hope that mojo is flowing early as they will look to start fast at home with the crowd behind them. Lightning netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been good but hasn’t looked unbeatable like Leafs goalie Frederick Andersen at times during the first round. If the Bruins start fast, avoid the boneheaded turnovers, and convert chances into points, they could grab firm control of the series.
“Just the fact that you’re home, you tend to start better,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know why that is…it just is. Probably the crowd – everyone has a little more juice. We expect we’ll have ours behind us, so hopefully, we’re up and running right from the puck drop.”