Highlights: B’s on the brink after lackluster Game 4


    The Lightning carried the momentum of their 7-1 Game 3 rout into Game 4 of their second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Bruins, scoring the first three goals Saturday to cruise to a 3-1 win and take a commanding 3-1 series lead after dropping the series opener.

    Ondrej Palat struck first with a goal midway through the first period, then added his second goal of the game at the 12:29 mark of the second frame. Victor Hedman’s power play goal with under two minutes to play in the second period was the back-breaker for Boston, which now has been outscored 10-2 over its last two games.

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    The Lightning would have had an earlier lead if not for this beauty of a save by Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

    A brutal turnover by the Bruins and a defensive breakdown in front of the net led to Palat’s first goal.

    Lightning S T R I K E S ⚡️The @TBLightning break the ice in Game 4. NBC | @HockeyvilleUSA pic.twitter.com/C1eoa7nvQq

    Anthony Cerelli set up Palat for a beauty of a one-timer that whistled past Halak’s extended glove in the second period to give Tampa Bay a two-goal lead.

    Lightning S T R I K E S ⚡️The @TBLightning break the ice in Game 4. NBC | @HockeyvilleUSA pic.twitter.com/C1eoa7nvQq

    Nick Ritchie earned a five-minute major penalty for this ugly hit on Yanni Gourde, who remained on the ice for some time before slowly skating off.

    The Lightning capitalized on the penalty thanks to a little puck luck when Hedman’s shot from the blue line deflected off Ondrej Kase’s skate and looped over Halak to make it 3-0.

    Jake DeBrusk’s power play goal in the third period was too little too late for the Bruins.

    UP NEXTThe Lightning can send the Bruins packing in Game 5, which begins Monday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. ET.

    Nick Ritchie blasted Yanni Gourde with a late, punishing hit in the second period of Game 4 on Saturday that earned the plodding Bruins winger a five-minute major for boarding.

    Ritchie’s hit was roundly criticized on the NBC broadcast in the studio between periods and had TV analysts, media and Bruins fans alike calling for Ritchie to be benched for the rest of the game. It was a clearly dirty, ill-advised hit that also led to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s crushing third goal in a 3-1 drubbing of the Bruins in Game 4 in the Toronto bubble. 

    Ritchie hit Gourde long after he had released the puck, and the impact far away from the boards slammed the Tampa Bay forward awkwardly into the sideboards after the collision. Gourde was able to finish out the game with no injury, and the Bruins winger said postgame he was simply doing his job and finishing his check with some playoff-level emphasis.

    « I had no intent to injure anybody » Nick Ritchie talks about his hit against Yanni Gourde pic.twitter.com/69tJNrAha0

    “I had no intent to put a guy on the ice and injure anybody. I was just finishing my hit, thought I did a good job keeping my arms down and it was shoulder to shoulder,” said Ritchie. “Maybe he wasn’t expecting it [after] he just got rid of the puck. I’m just playing my game and that’s part of it, sometimes stuff like that happens.”

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    Normally head coach Bruce Cassidy has an even-tempered response postgame to incidents like this, but it sure sounded like he believes the B’s got the short end of the stick.

    Bruce Cassidy had some thoughts about Nick Ritchie’s hit that led to a five-minute major pic.twitter.com/7Lrv2Xxq1q

    Perhaps Cassidy is in desperation mode now down 3-1 in a series to Tampa Bay again with little hope of coming back, and backed his power forward’s transgression while chiding Gourde for acting his way into a bigger penalty for the Bruins. This wasn’t the usual Cassidy assessment of things postgame, but perhaps the B’s coach realizes that the same old, same old isn’t working for the Bruins against a deeper, more talented Lightning group.

    Or perhaps Cassidy is watching coaches like Craig Berube and Jon Cooper work the officials against the Bruins in playoff series with whining and lobbying, and he’s doing something that he thinks might work for the Black and Gold. Either way it sounds like Cassidy thinks the Bruins got screwed with the five minute major call.

    “There was no [penalty] call, and then it turned into a five-minute major. I’m not sure, I guess we’ll get an explanation or we won’t, I don’t know, I didn’t get one of why that changed. Clearly Gourde was down on the play, he’s a good player, a real good player for them, clever obviously, got them on the power play for five minutes,” said Cassidy.

    “He finished the game and had no problems in the third period. I didn’t agree with the call. As I said, [Karson] Kuhlman got hit by [Cedric] Paquette late in the first period. [It was] a very, very, very, very, very similar hit, no call. But I guess we’ll ask that question [and] find out what the thinking was.”

    Cassidy was referencing a shoulder-to-shoulder hit against the end boards in the first period when Paquette slammed into Kuhlman, and then Ritchie put the Bruins shorthanded for a couple of minutes by jumping a player in Paquette who’s never going to answer the bell. Some of the characteristics of the hit were similar, but the Ritchie was definitely later and further away from the boards making it a more reckless action. 

    “He’s finishing a check, it happens all the time. [Ritchie] played through a player’s shoulder as I saw it. Shoulder to shoulder…hard. I don’t know if the explanation was it was late or if it was a 225-pound man hitting a 170-pound man and that’s why the penalty is called, » said Cassidy. 

    « I thought Paquette did the same thing, if not worse, to Kuhlman in the first period. The standard is set, that’s what officials do, they set the standard and the players adjust to it and adapt to it game in and game out. I thought [Ritchie] did a good job. That’s what he’s asked to do: Be hard on people, stick up for your teammates, go to the net, score dirty goals, make plays off the wall and all those things. 

    “So that hit was part of the job description and he did it. They reversed the call and at the end of the day, it went against us. We want Ritch to be physical, not reckless, and that’s what we thought it was, but it didn’t work out that way.”

    It bears watching to see if any of Cassidy’s comments have an impact on how Game 5 is called on Monday night with Boston’s back up against the wall, and a clear need for desperation and urgency out of his Bruins team. 

    The Boston Bruins are one loss away from exiting the Toronto bubble after losing 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of their second-round series.

    GOLD STAR: Ondrej Palat has been a killer in this series for the Lightning. Palat scored each of the game’s first two goals and gave Tampa Bay a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the first couple of periods. The first goal was a nice play where he cruised to the front of the net and found a spot in the interior B’s defense before converting a pass from Brayden Point, while the second goal was a one-timer that beat Jaroslav Halak’s glove hand for a crushing 2-0 lead.

    Palat finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in 18:42 of ice time while putting up five shots on net, one hit and three takeaways in a stellar performance. Palat has been an absolute Bruins assassin in this playoff series with four goals and six points in four games.

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

    BLACK EYE: The Bruins have circled the wagons for Nick Ritchie, but his mistakes were unforgivable in this game. He jumped Cedric Paquette – a guy who’s looking for him to do exactly that before he turtles and draws a penalty – and landed in the penalty box after pummeling him, then hit Yanni Gourde far too late with a dangerous hit away from the boards that earned him a five-minute major.

    The Lightning scored on that power play to take a 3-0 lead that the Bruins couldn’t surmount. That’s two games in a row where Ritchie’s lack of discipline has hurt the Bruins and dug them a hole against a superior Lighting team that’s taking advantage of every chance Boston is giving them.

    I expected Ritchie to be benched in the third period, but instead Bruce Cassidy kept rolling him out there and covered for him after the game. I guess the B’s are all-in on Ritchie at this point. 

    TURNING POINT: The Bruins were still locked in a 1-0 game in the second period and showed signs of taking control of the game, but then disaster struck in the form of Tampa Bay’s second score, a soft goal on Halak.

    Nikita Kucherov fed Ondrej Palat with the saucer pass and Palat smoked a one-timer under the bar that Halak simply missed with his glove-hand save attempt.

    It was a gut punch for the Bruins that pushed them down by two goals and was followed less than two minutes later by Ritchie bludgeoning Gourde with a late hit that put the B’s shorthanded again. Once that sequence happened, it was game over for the Bruins and probably series over with the B’s down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. 

    HONORABLE MENTION: Hand it to Jake DeBrusk for being the only player who was able to light the lamp in Game 4. DeBrusk scored on a nice play shooting through an Ondrej Kase screen to make it a 3-1 game in the third period, but that’s as close as the B’s would get after the power play score.

    DeBrusk finished with seven shot attempts and was pretty engaged while playing the body and using his skating legs throughout his 14:45 of ice time.

    The second line was at least a little better in Game 4 while generating some chances. For the second game in a row, however, the Tampa defense was able to stymie the Perfection Line and pretty much bottle up Boston’s offense just as it did in the teams’ playoff series a couple of years ago. 

    BY THE NUMBERS: .899 – the save percentage for Jaroslav Halak in this series vs. Tampa Bay, which is not going to get it done.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: « We’ve just got to get shots through. There’s no excuse for it.” – David Krejci, in a very terse postgame press conference in which he was clearly upset at being down 3-1 to the Lightning again a couple of years after the Bruins lost to Tampa in five games. 

    SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com

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