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Bruins v Lightning - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Lightning fans form human bolt for team

Emily Kaplan - Staff Writer

The Eastern Conference Finals are headed to Boston for Game 5 Monday, but fans in Tampa Bay wanted to show the Lightning they'd still have support -- even though they'll be more than 1,300 miles away.

On Sunday morning, as the team's plane was set to depart from Tampa International Airport, about 500 fans donning blue jerseys and shirts congregated in the airport's economy parking lot. The fans formed a human lightning bolt, which was visible from the plane as it took off.

Six Questions: When will the top lines show up?

Shawn P. Roarke and Corey Masisak - Staff Writers

BOSTON -- This Eastern Conference Finals clash between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning shifted dramatically between Games 2 and 3 and then again during Game 4 after the first intermission.

Tampa Bay rallied for a dramatic 5-3 victory on Saturday afternoon after falling behind by three goals, and the series is now level at two games apiece. Trying to predict where the series goes from here would be pretty difficult given the wild swings of momentum and scoring sprees by both teams -- with a 2-0 defensive battle mixed in there as well.

Patrice Bergeron was fantastic for Boston in Game 4 and has been the team's best player since returning from a concussion -- just as he might have been before the injury. He could be making a strong push to be a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate.

Bruins' counter to Bolts' forecheck will be key

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON -- The Bruins have not been shy in admitting that the Lightning's aggressive, physical forecheck helped change the tide of Game 4.

"I think the forwards have to come back and get in their positions. At the same time, we need to be good on the walls. I think a few times we turned the puck over on the walls and that is uncharacteristic of our team. If we are winning battles on the wall, that's going to help out the (defense)."
-- Rich Peverley

So how do they blunt that forecheck, which will be emboldened in Game 5 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS) by the success it had in Game 4. Surely Tampa Bay can trace its forecheck as the primary cause in at least three of the goals it scored Saturday.

"I would prefer taking the responsibility on our team and saying what do we have to do better, more than look at them and what are they doing to us to cause those things," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday. "I think it's really about our execution, and we've been able to handle that in the past. So I don't see why we can't handle it now."

In order to handle that forecheck, Boston will have to do things far differently than it did in the final 40 minutes of Game 4. Defensemen might have been directly to blame on several occasions -- a Zdeno Chara turnover behind the net led to Tampa Bay's first goal and a turnover by Tomas Kaberle led to the next one -- but the blame went deeper than the six defensemen in Saturday's game.

All signs point to Roloson retaining No. 1 job

Emily Kaplan - Staff Writer

Is there a goalie controversy brewing in the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room? Doesn't seem like it.

Though regular starter Dwayne Roloson was pulled in the first period of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday -- after allowing three goals on nine shots in the first 17:58 -- and backup Mike Smith shined in relief, stopping all 21 shots he faced, all signs point to Roloson remaining as Tampa Bay's No. 1 goalie heading into Monday night's Game 5 in Boston.

Though Lightning head coach Guy Boucher didn't directly say it, he hinted that Roloson will be in the net come the opening faceoff Monday night.

Malone paying the price for Lightning

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

BOSTON -- While the Tampa Bay Lightning had given other members of the Boston Bruins defense corps trouble with forechecking pressure during the Eastern Conference Finals, there have been instances where it seemed like they were giving Zdeno Chara too much time and space once the puck settled on his stick.

Ryan Malone changed that in the second period of Game 4, and he may have altered the course of this series in the process. Malone's willingness to get physical with the imposing Boston captain helped ignite a Tampa Bay rally.

"It takes a lot of energy to take on a big guy like that and put that guy down," teammate Simon Gagne said. "Maybe it starts with that. That's what we need. We need to be physical but at the same time we need to make sure we get that puck after. He was one of the best players for us."

Bruins regroup after stunning loss in Game 4

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins, almost 24 hours removed from the "Breakdown at the Bay," insist they are now fully focused on Monday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final.

"We're fine," said Boston coach Claude Julien, after his team convened at TD Garden for some morning meetings and media availability. "I think that is what hockey is about. It's a tight series and we understand that we didn't do a very good job from the second period on yesterday afternoon."

Actually in the minds of most Bruins, the final 40 minutes of play in Saturday's Game 4 was more terrible than just not very good.

It was hard for anyone to find many bright spots as Boston allowed five-straight goals – including three in a 3:58 span of the second period that erased a 3-0 lead for the Bruins – in a demoralizing 5-3 loss that interjected the Tampa Bay Lightning right back into this Eastern Conference Finals.

Purcell steps up to lead Lightning rally

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Teddy Purcell had immediate success at almost every level of hockey before he reached the NHL. It may have taken a little longer but Purcell is becoming a dynamite player at this level during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

His two goals in 63 seconds started the rally for Tampa Bay as the Lightning erased a three-tally deficit and defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"That's what I like about our team -- you never know who is going to make that big goal to be the difference," said forward Simon Gagne, who scored the go-ahead goal in the third period. "It starts with Teddy tonight. I think he was the difference tonight for us coming back from 3-0 and scoring two big goals. That's what I like about our team -- the balance."

Bruins watch Game 4 melt away

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

TAMPA, Fla. -- Will this be the 20 minutes that lives in infamy during Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup run, or will it be just another bump in the road for these resilient Bruins?

The Bruins played their worst period of the postseason Saturday afternoon in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, turning a three-goal lead after the first period into a 3-3 tie after the second. The Lightning scored two more goals – the game-winner by Bruin-killer Simon Gagne and an empty-netter by Marty St. Louis – in the third period to take the unlikeliest of 5-3 victories.

Now, instead of heading home with a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, the Bruins head back to Boston to begin a best-of-three showdown against a rejuvenated Lightning team bursting with confidence after Saturday's heroics.

Smith does the job in relief for Lightning

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- This has been a roller-coaster season for Mike Smith.

He's missed time with an injury, been sent to the minors and officially been the backup goaltender for the first time in his three-plus seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And yet there he was Saturday afternoon, stopping all 21 shots he faced in relief of starter Dwayne Roloson to help his team to a dramatic 5-3 comeback victory against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Smith replaced Roloson after he had allowed three goals on nine shots in the first 17:58. It was the second relief appearance for Smith in the series; he has stopped all 29 shots he's faced, and the Lightning have outscored the Bruins 7-0 with him in net.

Bruins loss is one for the books

John Kreiser - Columnist

Before last year, the Boston Bruins had failed to win after taking a three-goal lead in a playoff game just twice in franchise history. They've now done it twice in 16 games.

Just as they did in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia, the Bruins grabbed a 3-0 lead on Saturday against Tampa Bay but couldn't hold it. The Lightning scored three times in less than four minutes in the second period to tie the score before Simon Gagne scored 6:54 into the third period and set up Martin St. Louis' empty-netter in a 5-3 victory.

Gagne also had the game-winner for the Flyers last spring, when Philadelphia became only the third team ever to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a Game 7.
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