Game 4 a must-win for Bruins after abysmal 7-1 loss to Lightning


    Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning is one Boston Bruins will be trying to quickly forget.

    It was one of the Bruins’ worst playoff losses in a long time, and Boston now trails this second round Stanley Cup Playoff series 2-1 as a result.

    The Lightning dominated right from the start and rode a rejuvenated power play to a 7-1 victory. There were almost no bright spots for the Bruins, who must rebound fast or this series could get away from them.

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    1. The Lightning power play is backThe Lightning were 0-for-15 on the power play in their seven playoff games prior to Wednesday, and they busted out of that slump in a major way.

    Tampa Bay went 3-for-6 on the power play in Game 3 — absolutely dominating a Boston penalty kill that ranks among the league’s best. The Lightning’s third power play goal ended Jaroslav Halak’s night. The B’s goalie made 12 saves on 16 shots before departing.

    The Lightning power play finding its groove again is a bad scenario for the Bruins. Tampa Bay scored the fourth-most goals with the man advantage during the regular season, and both of the team’s power play units are loaded with high-end offensive skill.

    The Bruins must stay out of the box as much as possible against the Lightning, especially if Tampa Bay continues to dominate play at 5-on-5. 

    2. Game 4 is a must-win for B’sTeams that win Game 3 when a series is tied 1-1 advance to the next round 67 percent of the time. When a team goes up 3-1 in a series, it reaches the next round 91 percent of the time. So, it’s pretty easy to understand why Game 4 is as close to a must-win as you can get for the Bruins.

    Trying to erase a 3-1 deficit against a Lightning team that many smart hockey minds consider the best in the league would be an incredibly tough task for the B’s. The Lightning have won six of the eight meetings between these teams in 2019-20, including the regular season and round robin. Tampa Bay is a confident team against Boston, and it has the combination of high-end skill, toughness and quality goaltending to give the Bruins all they can handle.

    3. Where is Boston’s secondary scoring?The Bruins have scored seven goals in three games against the Lightning, and five of them were tallied by the top line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) or on the power play. Marchand has accounted for four of the seven goals himself, including at least one in each game.

    Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie both scored in Game 2, but aside from those tallies, Boston’s secondary scoring has been absent so far. The entire second line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase has yet to score a goal in this series. Bruins defensemen also have failed to find the back of the net in the three games.

    The Bruins cannot win this series relying on the top line and the power play to score all the goals. You can get away with that against an inferior Carolina Hurricanes team in Round 1, but it won’t work against a deep, experienced Lightning squad that has a Vezina Trophy finalist in net.

    GOLD STAR: There were a number of standout players for the Lightning in the blowout win, but give it to Alex Killorn as the former Harvard star that did some damage against the Black and Gold. Killorn finished with a pair of goals and three points along with a plus-2 in 20:17 of ice time and scored the fourth goal for the Lightning that ultimately chased Jaroslav Halak from the game.

    It was a grinding rebound score in front after Halak couldn’t corral an Ondrej Palat tester and it really pushed Tampa Bay to a point where the B’s weren’t going to catch them. Killorn finished with four shots on net, six shot attempts, six hits and had a blocked shot in a very complete effort for the Lightning. Contrast that with the lack of anything from the middle-6 forwards for the Bruins and you see why the Lightning are now up 2-1 in the series.   

    BLACK EYE: Zdeno Chara is renowned as the NHL’s most effective penalty killer, but he was far from that in the stunningly bad loss for the Bruins. Chara was on the ice for all three power play goals surrendered to the Tampa Bay Lightning and once again looked like he’s toward the end of the road as a 43-year-old defenseman struggling to keep up with the younger legs.

    Chara had four shot attempts, a couple of hits and a blocked shot in his 18:04 of ice time, but has already been on the ice for a half-dozen Tampa goals in the series as the main shutdown guy for the Black and Gold. It’s problematic to expect things that Chara isn’t capable of right now given the long layoff and his advanced 43 years of age, but he at least needs to be bulletproof on the penalty kill. He wasn’t that all in Game 3 and that’s part of the reason things got ugly.

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    TURNING POINT: The Bruins really were off balance right from the jump in Game 3 as a couple of penalties knocked them off-kilter and eventually the Lightning scored on their second power play of the first period. Then the Bolts scored again on the next shift when linesman Devin Berg got in the way of Jeremy Lauzon, essentially set a pick on him and then freed up Yanni Gourde on a breakaway goal that he scored to make it a 2-0 quick lead for Tampa Bay.

    The Bruins never really made any plays to get back into the game, and instead fell down by a 4-1 score in the second period before Bruce Cassidy opted to yank Jaroslav Halak in favor of Daniel Vladar. At that point it was all over for the Bruins and there was very little pushback from the B’s in terms of climbing out of the hole. For a normally resilient Bruins group, they didn’t bounce back from anything in Game 3.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug didn’t have a great game by any means, but at least he held up his end of the bargain creating a goal on the power play and showing some spirit and fight on the ice as the ship was going down. Krug made a nice play to get a pass down to Brad Marchand at the backdoor on the PP for a power play score and he later dropped the gloves with Tyler Johnson as the Bruins were falling behind in the second period.

    Krug finished with the assist, eight shot attempts and four hits in 16:35 of ice time while being one of the few productive B’s players. Krug exited the game in the second period for a brief moment of time for unknown reasons, but he returned to finish out the game along with the rest of a temporarily defeated group of B’s players.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – the number of power play goals allowed by the Bruins to the Tampa Bay Lightning after allowing just three power play goals in the first 10 games that Boston played in the Toronto bubble.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: « The disappointing part about that is that we weren’t able to get ourselves back in the game by killing any further penalties or creating offense, or having a push back. That’s what we lacked tonight for whatever reason. But it’s over. We’re going to focus on Game 4. »

    IN BRIEF: The Lightning thoroughly dominated the Bruins in Game 3 of their second round Stanley Cup Playoff series on Wednesday night.

    Tampa Bay opened up a 2-0 first period lead and never looked back. The Bolts scored three times on the power play and also outplayed the Bruins at 5-on-5. It was one of the worst performances in recent Bruins playoff history. In fact, it’s the first time the Bruins have lost a playoff matchup by five or more goals since Game 7 of the first round against the Montreal Canadiens in 2008.

    Alex Killorn (two goals, one assist), Nikita Kucherov (one goal, three assists) and Brayden Point (one goal, two assists) did most of the damage for the Lightning. They chased Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak from the net after increasing their lead to 4-1 in the second period. Halak made 12 saves on 16 shots. Rookie netminder Dan Vladar made his NHL debut in place of Halak and gave up three goals on 15 shots.

    Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

    HIGHLIGHTSA pretty weak slashing call on Bruins forward Nick Ritchie put the Lightning on the power play and they made the B’s pay.

    Fifteen seconds later the Lightning doubled their lead when Yanni Gourde scored on Halak, but only after the linesman took Boston defenseman Jeremy Lauzon out of the play in a collision.

    The Bruins finally got on the board and trimmed the deficit to 3-1 with a power play goal. If the play looks familiar, that’s because the B’s ran it in Game 2 and also scored.

    Alex Killorn scored the Lightning’s third power play goal to increase their lead to 4-1. It also was the last goal Halak would give up, as he was pulled from the game shortly after. 

    UP NEXTAfter playing games on back-to-back days, both teams will have Thursday to rest, recover and maybe get some practice time in before Friday night’s Game 4. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.




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