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Stamkos delivers for Lightning against Bruins in Game 4

Scores tying goal in third for Tampa Bay, which extends series lead

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Jon Cooper had a three-word plea for Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos before he stepped on the ice Friday.

"'We need ya,'" the Lightning coach said.

Stamkos delivered, and the Lightning will return home with a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Final after a 4-3 overtime win against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the second round at TD Garden.


[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Bruins Game 4 highlights | Complete Lightning vs. Bruins series coverage]


Stamkos, who was limited to one empty-net goal (in Game 3) in the first three games, scored to tie it 3-3 with 7:04 remaining in regulation on a 33-foot one-timer that he hit so hard it was like he was getting all his frustration out with one shot. 

Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi went backdoor to the front of the net and scored the game-winning goal on a redirection 3:18 into overtime. 

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 3-1, winning each of the past three games.

Video: TBL@BOS, Gm4: Stamkos nets one-timer to tie it

"We knew it was going to come," Stamkos said. "It's percentages. You keep working hard. You keep shooting the puck. You keep working the way you've done in the past, it's going to happen. It was nice to do it in a big moment tonight."

Stamkos said he was motivated by seeing linemate Nikita Kucherov get his first point of the series, a power-play goal at 9:53 of the first period that gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. 

That the Lightning had won Games 2 and 3 without any meaningful production from their top scorers was a feat in and of itself. It was also somewhat lucky, because as deep as they are, it's fair to say the odds of the Lightning continuing to beat the Bruins without contributions from Stamkos and Kucherov were not in their favor.

Cooper knew that. So did Stamkos and Kucherov. That's why their goals in Game 4 were so impactful.

"If you want to keep going in the playoffs, you need everybody, and we've got it from everybody," Cooper said. "[Brayden] Point's line has done it on a consistent basis, but everybody is chipping in. What was a really good sign for us is [Stamkos and Kucherov] hadn't been scoring and we were still winning. It was just a matter of time. It was almost like Stammer said, 'I've had enough.' That thing went in with authority. Huge goal for us."

Video: TBL@BOS, Gm4: Girardi deflects in OT winner

If Stamkos was frustrated, he had good reason. It was just over six minutes earlier, at 6:36 of the third period, that his turnover along the left wall during a Tampa Bay power play led to Patrice Bergeron's shorthanded goal that gave Boston a 3-2 lead.

Not only were the Lightning now forced to chase a game that they had led 2-0 in the first period, they also had to again find a way to not let frustration get the better of them.

"I think everything about this team was shown after we gave up that shorthanded goal," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "A lot of teams would go away and keep their head down."

That the Lightning didn't was a central theme to their night, because the shorthanded goal was one of many instances of adversity they had to overcome.

For starters, their penalty kill was a big problem. They allowed power-play goals to David Pastrnak at 15:28 of the first period and to Bergeron at 2:04 of the second. That's how the Bruins came back from down 2-0, which they couldn't do in Game 3.

Video: TBL@BOS, Gm4: Kucherov blasts one-timer for PPG

The Lightning struggled to contain the Bruins in the first 10 minutes of the second period, when Boston outshot Tampa Bay 10-2 by controlling the pace and playing physical. 

If that weren't enough, Kucherov hit the crossbar on a breakaway with 2:55 left in the first period and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made a glove save on Stamkos on a breakaway 2:24 into the second.

"We really didn't get down ourselves," Girardi said. "We knew we played a good solid 5-on-5 game. They did have a good push in the second, they were controlling the pace, but we were trying to let [Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy] see some of the shots. We didn't really deviate from the game plan. We just kept going and going."

They even had to keep their composure after Bruins forward Brad Marchand licked Ryan Callahan during a skirmish with 8:23 remaining in the second period, a few seconds after Marchand laid a hit on Callahan that Tampa Bay felt was low and dangerous.

The Lightning were not happy with Marchand, with Cooper saying what he did has no place in the game and Callahan comparing it to spitting in someone's face.

"It's unfortunate that he goes that low to do that," Callahan said, "but it doesn't take us off our game."

Nothing seems to be taking the Lightning off their game these days. Their resiliency and depth have been huge keys to victory in this series. Now Stamkos and Kucherov are, too.

The conference final could be 60 minutes away.



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