Brad Marchand looked great early in the game, hitting the post in the first few minutes.
A power play around the midway point of the frame gave Boston the 1-0 lead, thanks to who else? His Carbiness the David, scoring just seconds into the advantage.
A Boston penalty came shortly thereafter, as Sean Kuraly held Nikita Kucherov, but Tampa couldn’t even the score. Jake DeBrusk had a great stickhandling sequence that led to a golden pass, and the puck trickled down Vasilevskiy’s back, but it rolled just wide.
A solid effort by Boston to finish the period with a lead was demolished by back-to-back defensive breakdowns, first by allowing Kucherov to sneak behind the D, and then Brayden Point absolutely blowing past Zdeno Chara and sniping top corns.
GOAL!!— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) October 17, 2019
Timing is everything Brayden Point scores to tie the game for @TBLightning! #GoBolts
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Beautiful. Terrible for the Bruins, but beautiful nonetheless.
Carter Verhaeghe took an early penalty to put Boston back on the man advantage. No luck for Boston, and David Pastrnak looked real slow when he got stuck playing defense. In his defense, Tampa made everyone look slow on defense.
Boston would get a second chance when Yanni Gourde held Bergeron, and Bergeron would get his own justice, an oh-so-delicate chip-in past Vasilevskiy from the slot while on the power play.
While they announced his goal, though, Kucherov and Point nearly connected to tie the game immediately. Moments later, Mathieu Joseph rushed at the Boston defense, dished the puck to Alex Killorn, and went straight to the near post while Krug tried to block a shot. A bounce off Rask just sat at the edge of the crease, and Joseph had only to breathe on it.
Were it not for a fortunate TV timeout at the next stoppage, this game was about to boil over - not physically or temperamentally, but offensively. These are two strategically sound teams with very potent top-line players. Instead, the goals stopped for the frame, but Tampa tallied morebetter chances off the rush. (Yes, it’s a word. Just ask Kevin Wilson.)
Rask then had to bear most of the burden of shots; Tampa kept their lead in that department and were able to get some very good scoring chances from multiple forward lines. In the last few minutes, they worked hard to drive through the middle of the ice, drawing both B’s defenders to the middle lane and opening up space to the outside for passes. Boston on their heels is almost worse than Boston getting burned on the rush.
A late penalty to Erik Cernak for interference gave the B’s another chance before the period expired, and it went for naught.
Boston tightened down a bit, forcing play back on Tampa. The possession charts never recovered for Boston through the rest of the game, though - the Bolts were just way better at controlling play. That didn’t mean, though, that the B’s weren’t making themselves more dangerous. For a couple shifts about five minutes in, they upped the physicality factor on the forecheck with a few board-rattling hits, with Chris Wagner in particular landing a heavy hit on Mikhail Sergachev.
As time ran out, though, Tampa found a seam. Kevin Shattenkirk looked like he would need to get control of the puck before shooting, but managed to fire home a wrist shot from the high slot.
THE LIGHTNING TAKE THE LEAD!!— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) October 18, 2019
Kevin Shattenkirk slaps it in to make it 3-2 over Boston! #GoBolts
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When the building sighed, Tampa felt relief, and decided to give Boston a chance on another power play. And capitalize they did, with Pastrnak tallying his second of the game and eighth of the season.
3-on-3 is SO entertaining... if only the ice sheet shrank a little too. Boston had some good rushes, and a post hit by Kuraly, but neither team could capitalize. Rask had some outstanding saves, and Boston’s trios did a great job of collapsing in front of the net to clear rebounds. Clearly these teams wanted to beat each other...
After three scoreless rounds, Stamkos landed the high-blocker snipe, and DeBrusk couldn’t keep the game alive. Maybe he just wanted to get to his birthday cake?
You can be disappointed in any loss, but Boston was able to match Tampa’s offense with fewer quality chances through the first two periods. They made up a shot deficit after two and eventually finished the game with one more than Tampa (37-36). The biggest challenge Boston needs to address in facing off against this team is to find ways to stifle the rush through the neutral zone, and to mitigate their own neutral zone turnovers.
On to Toronto on Saturday!