Is it really August or is it actually just Groundhog Day for the Boston Bruins? The B’s dropped another one, 3-2, to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday in their second game of the Round Robin tournament to determine the No. 1-4 seeds for the Eastern Conference in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (2-0-0, 1.92 goals against average, .933 save percentage in two games) turned aside 25 out of 27 shots faced for a .926 SV% in the win for the Lightning.
Meanwhile, Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (0-1-0, 3.10 GAA, .914 SV% in one game) made 32 saves on 35 shots against for a .914 SV% in the loss at the NHL’s Eastern Conference bubble– Scotiabank Arena– in Toronto, Ontario.
Entering Wednesday, Patrice Bergeron had a day off at practice on Monday, which Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, later clarified to reporters was just a maintenance day, while Rask was back to practice on Monday and returned to the lineup against the Lightning.
Rask mentioned at his media conference call after Monday’s practice that he spent a couple of days quarantined in his hotel room after having a cough and needed to have two negative tests for COVID-19 in order to return.
“I had a cough so I just clicked ‘yes’ on the app and then all kinds of red lights started blinking so I was quarantined for two days. They wanted to do two negative tests after that,” Rask explained to reporters via Zoom.
Nick Ritchie was also back in the lineup after missing last Sunday’s, 4-1, loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, while Ondrej Kase was ruled out of Wednesday’s action against Tampa, but should be good to go against Washington, according to Cassidy.
As a result, Cassidy switched up his middle lines from last Sunday’s matchup with the Flyers to Wednesday’s meeting with the Lightning.
Ritchie took to David Krejci’s left wing with Karson Kuhlman on the other side, while Anders Bjork was on the left side of Charlie Coyle on the third line– with Jake DeBrusk serving as the right winger.
The Bruins made no other changes to their lineup.
Meanwhile, Zach Senyshyn, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Kase, Maxime Lagace, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Connor Clifton, Dan Vladar and Trent Frederic served as Boston’s scratches.
Jon Cooper’s Lightning were without their captain, Steven Stamkos, in the lineup once again. Stamkos has yet to make his Round Robin debut for the Bolts (with their last matchup before the First Round against Philadelphia set for Saturday).
Less than a minute into the action, Jeremy Lauzon was caught trailing Blake Coleman and hooked the Lightning forward, resulting in a power play for the Bolts 43 seconds into the first period.
Tampa was not able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
Brayden Point (2) slipped a loose puck through Rask’s five-hole after Rask made the initial save and follow up stop, while the Bruins scrambled to defender after blowing a pair of chances to score at the other end.
Ondrej Palat (1) and Nikita Kucherov (1) tallied the assists on Point’s goal and the Lightning led, 1-0, at 7:33 of the first period.
A few minutes later, the Bruins had too many skaters on the ice and were assessed a bench minor for doing so at 10:19. Ritchie served the bench infraction, but Tampa’s power play struck fast.
Alex Killorn (1) redirected a shot with the back of his skate blade after the puck deflected off of Sean Kuraly’s stick initially off a shot from teh point by Lightning defender, Victor Hedman.
Hedman (1) and Tyler Johnson (1) notched the assists on the goal and the Bolts led, 2-0, at 10:32.
Late in the period, chaos ensued as both teams took issue with one another– culminating in Torey Krug and Coleman exchanging fisticuffs at 17:07, and continuing almost 90 seconds later when Point and Charlie McAvoy shared an embrace and with it roughing minor penalties.
Point earned two roughing infractions, while McAvoy was only charged with one at 18:25, yielding the first power play of the game for Boston, but the Bruins couldn’t hit the twine in the dying minutes of the opening frame.
After one period of play, the Lightning led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, but the B’s held the advantage in shots on goal, 9-8.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2), but Tampa had the edge in just about every other statistical category, including takeaways (4-1), hits (13-11) and faceoff win percentage (61-39).
Both teams had one giveaway aside, while the Bolts were 1/2 on the power play and the B’s were 0/1 heading into the first intermission.
Early in the middle frame, Coleman was penalized for interference when he brought down Kuraly while crashing the net at 4:37 of the second period, but (in what was a trend for the afternoon) Boston’s power play wasn’t able to convert on the advantage.
Late in the period McAvoy (1) one-timed a shot from the point on a pass from Krug off a faceoff win by Bergeron and cut Tampa’s lead in half.
Boston was on the board, 2-1, while Krug (1) and Bergeron (1) picked up their first points of the Round Robin games at 16:43.
Entering the second intermission, Tampa was ahead, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 19-18, in shots on goal– including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.
The Lightning led in blocked shots (11-7) and takeaways (5-3) after 40 minutes of action, while the Bruins held the advantage in giveaways (7-3), hits (26-19) and faceoff win% (63-38).
Tampa remained 1/2 on the power play, while Boston dropped to 0/2 on the skater advantage.
Chris Wagner (2) tapped in a loose puck after Zdeno Chara fired a shot that leaked through Vasilevskiy at 1:47 of the third period and the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.
Chara (1) and Kuraly (1) had the assists on Wagner’s goal and Boston swung momentum in their favor– only until about the midpoint of the final frame.
Kucherov tripped Wagner at 5:13 of the third period, but the Bruins didn’t convert on the skater advantage.
Midway through the third, Barclay Goodrow caught Bjork with a charge and was assessed a minor penalty at 10:19. Once more, Boston’s power play couldn’t get anything going and did not convert on the advantage.
From there, momentum shifted back to Tampa as the Bruins let rush after rush enter their own zone.
Yanni Gourde threw the puck on net, Rask made an initial pad save, but Johnson (1) scored on the rebound while Brandon Carlo was trailing behind the play and Krug was defending the other side where the Lightning entered the zone.
Gourde (1) and Killorn (1) collected the assists on Johnson’s game-winning goal and the Bolts grabbed the, 3-2, lead at 18:33 of the third period– with just enough time to hold off any last ditch efforts from Boston.
Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker with about 1:15 remaining, but it was to no avail as the final horn sounded and the Lightning won, 3-2.
The Bolts finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (35-27) and blocked shots (16-10), while the B’s finished with the advantage in giveaways (11-10), hits (31-28) and faceoff win% (61-39).
Tampa finished 1/2 on the skater advantage and Boston went 0/4 on the power play on Wednesday.
The Bruins fell to 0-2-0 in the Round Robin action and can finish no better than 3rd in the seeding with a win against the Washington Capitals in any fashion on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Lightning can all but assure themselves of the No. 1 seed with a win in any fashion against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.