After a huge game 7 victory on Wednesday, the Boston Bruins looked to carry their momentum into Amalie Arena Saturday afternoon to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first game of the series.
On paper, both teams appear to be evenly matched in almost every facet of the game. Both teams have strong depth on offense, giving them the ability to roll out all four-lines at will. While the Lightning have arguably the best defensive core in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins are also solid on the blue line. Both teams have a reliable goaltender between the pipes, with Andrei Vasilevskiy and Tuuka Rask.
The Bruins have won 3 of their 4 meetings in the regular season, but the playoffs are a whole different beast. This series is looking to be a thriller as these two powerhouse teams look to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
Both teams brought the intensity from the puck drop, but the Lightning controlled the play with more puck possession. Rask made some big-time saves early, preventing the opponents from establishing a lead early in the first frame.
After a tripping call going against the Lighting late in the period, the Bruins were able to take the 1-0 lead just eight seconds into the powerplay. David Pastrnak made a shot from the point, and Rick Nash was able to bury it with a beautiful redirection that made its way through under the arm of Vasilevskiy.
That goal ended the scoring in the first, and the Bruins entered the locker room with a one goal lead.
The Bruins wasted no time as Patrice Bergeron scored a one-timer off a feed from Pastrnak to put the Bruins up 2-0 just 43 seconds into the period.
However, the Lightning fired back quickly and reduced the deficit to one with a goal from Dan Girardi (you read that correctly).
The Bruins top-line continued their dominance as Brad Marchand put the puck in the back of the net, although it was disallowed after Pastrnak was the victim of a very weak call with a cross-check.
Despite this, the Bruins answered yet again with Rick Nash’s second goal of the night as he sniped it from the slot just after the penalty expired.
With 12:41 remaining in the period, Jake DeBrusk is called for interference, giving the Lightning the opportunity to get themselves back in the game.
In one of the strangest sequences in hockey that I have ever seen, the Lighting were able to score and reduce the lead to 1 off a goal from Mikhail Sergachev. The goal comes after Rask lost his skate blade, making it much more difficult for him to get into position.
The Bruins were able to extend the lead to two early in the third period as Brad Marchand was able to redirect Charlie McAvoy’s slap pass.
From there, The Bruins took control of the remainder of the game and added an insurance goal with Bergeron’s second of the night.
With just under seven minutes to play, the Lightning made an interesting decision by emptying the net and bringing on the extra attacker. While ambitious, this proved unsuccessful as Jake DeBrusk put the game out of reach with an empty net goal.
The game remained 6-2 until the final horn, and the Boston Bruins have taken a 1-0 lead in the series.
While I am thrilled to see such an all-around effort from the Bruins in game one, I did not anticipate it being this lopsided. I expected the game to be a close one, and that could not have been farther from the truth.
After not making much of a presence in the first round, Rick Nash had himself a great game notching two goals.
The story of the night was the first line, which has been lethal all year. They combined for a whopping 11 points on the night. 11 POINTS.
Ultimately, I do expect the Lightning to bounce back with a more solid effort in game 2, but for now Bruins fans can be happy with the game 1 turnout.