Lightning look to answer Bruins, tie series
Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 1:30 PM
BRUINS at LIGHTNING
(Boston leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
TV: NBC (HD), TSN (HD), RDS (HD)
Big story: The Bruins have won two straight in this series and can assume full control with another road victory less than 42 hours after Game 3, while the Lightning will be searching for more offense after being shut out Thursday night.
Bruins: After two games of yielding far more scoring chances than they have come to expect, the Bruins put forth a fantastic defensive effort in Game 3. Tim Thomas made 31 saves, but his teammates did a fine job of limiting the number of prime opportunities -- something that wasn't the case in Games 1 and 2.
Patrice Bergeron made his return for Boston and had a significant impact. His two-way play was a big part of how the Bruins were able to stifle Tampa Bay's top scorers.
"I really felt that Patrice looked like a guy who hadn't missed a step," coach Claude Julien said. "You would have never known that he almost spent two weeks without playing a game. ... You could just tell by his skating, by his battles and everything else that he felt really good."
Lightning: Tampa Bay improved dramatically on defense from Game 2 to Game 3, but the Lightning's offensive attack went missing in the 2-0 loss. They were unable to generate turnovers with their defensive system, and their ability to turn crisp outlet passes into counterattacking rushes at the other end also went AWOL at St. Pete Times Forum.
Beign forced to produce scoring opportunities by working below the goal line and in front of the Boston net did not yield nearly the same results against the physical Burins defense. The Lightning were solid on defense, but a blown coverage on the second shift of the game led to an early Boston goal and left them chasing for the final 58 minutes.
If they can replicate the defensive effort from Game 3 while rebooting their offensive prowess -- Tampa Bay had scored at least three goals in eight of the previous nine playoff games -- then the Lightning should have a chance to earn another split and make this a best-of-three series.
Who's hot: David Krejci has goals in back-to-back games for the Bruins and 6 points in the past five games. ... Vinny Lecavalier has 6 points in the past five games for Tampa Bay, while third-line forwards Dominic Moore and Sean Bergenheim have 5 points each.
Injury report: Krejci did not practice for the Bruins on Friday after enduring a big hit from Tampa Bay's Marc-Andre Bergeron in Game 3 but Julien said he is fine. The coach also acknowledged Milan Lucic is playing through a minor injury, which is believed to be related to taking a shot off his foot in practice before Game 2. ... The Lightning are still without defenseman Pavel Kubina, who is out with a concussion. Forward Dana Tyrell has been pronounced fit to play but was a healthy scratch in Game 3. He hasn't played since Game 4 of the first round.
Stat pack: One of the biggest keys for Boston the past two games has been success in the faceoff circle. The Bruins have won 78 of 138 draws (56.5 percent) since being dominated in Game 1. Bergeron and Krejci combined to win 31 of 46 in Game 3, which allowed Boston's top two lines to control the puck and spend lots of time in the Tampa Bay zone.
Puck drop: Tyler Seguin has had quite the coming-out party in this round of the postseason. He had 3 goals and 3 assists in his first two NHL playoff games, earning chants of his name at TD Garden and cheers when he stepped onto the ice on the power play.
Seguin nearly added to his growing stature in Game 3 when he was originally credited with the team's second goal. As it turned out, he would have had to quite literally grow to have scored the goal -- he wasn't anywhere near Andrew Ference's shot from the left point that beat Dwayne Roloson through a screen.
"I was impressed with that 30-foot stick of his when he tipped that goal in, I guess," Julien said. "So that was even more impressive."