Victor Hedman scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to catapult the Tampa Bay Lightning into the 2020 Eastern Conference Final with a, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of their Second Round series.
Tampa emerged victorious in the series, 4-1, while Boston is heading home from the Scotiabank Arena bubble in Toronto empty handed.
For the first time since 2018, the Lightning are back in the Eastern Conference Final, which, coincidentally also featured a five-game series win against the Bruins in the Second Round to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
With the series win on Monday, Tampa improved to 2-1 in all-time postseason series meetings against Boston.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (9-4 in 13 games this postseason, 1.91 goals against average, .931 save percentage) made 45 saves on 47 shots against for a .957 SV% in the win for the Bolts.
Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak (4-5 in nine games this postseason, 2.76 GAA, .902 SV%) stopped 32 out of 35 shots faced for a .914 SV% in the loss for the Bruins.
Bruce Cassidy made a few necessary adjustments to his lineup with Sean Kuraly, Nick Ritchie and Chris Wagner out due to injury (officially, “unfit to participate”).
With Kuraly missing his third game of the series, Par Lindholm remained as the fourth line center with Karson Kuhlman taking Wagner’s spot at right wing while Joakim Nordstrom remained on the left side.
Jack Studnicka was back in the lineup and took over Kuhlman’s spot on the right side of the third line with Anders Bjork also back in action on the left side of Charlie Coyle.
Kuraly, Ritchie and Wagner were all “unfit to participate”, while Boston’s list of scratches also included Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Maxime Lagacé, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Trent Frederic.
Jon Cooper made one change to Tampa’s lineup for Game 5, re-inserting Ryan McDonagh on the blue line after the defender had been out since Game 1 with an injury.
As a result, Braydon Coburn joined Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Jan Rutta, Mitchell Stephens, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Volkov and Scott Wedgewood among the Lightning’s scratches on Monday.
David Krejci tied Wayne Cashman for the fourth most postseason games played in a Bruins uniform with 145.
Meanwhile, Cassidy now holds a 27-28 (.491 winning percentage) record in the postseason behind the bench with Boston.
He is 29-32 overall as an NHL head coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Cassidy was the head coach of the Washington Capitals for parts of two seasons from 2002-04, leading Washington to a 2-4 record in six postseason games outside his tenure with the Bruins).
2020 marks the sixth appearance (previous, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018) in the Eastern Conference Final for the Lightning since their first season in the NHL in 1992-93.
As a fun fact, Tampa spent their first season in the Campbell Conference (what is now known as the Western Conference) before moving to the Eastern Conference for the 1993-94 season and beyond.
Midway through the opening frame Nikita Kucherov tried to sneak behind Zdeno Chara while skating through the low slot in front of the net before the two collided without Chara knowing the Lightning forward was there, thereby lending both players to lose their balance.
In the process, the Bruins captain caught Kucherov with a high stick, while an errant puck hit Chara in the leg/skate as an unintentional blocked shot that left both players falling to the ice– Kucherov for the stick to the face, Chara for the shot to the leg/foot.
Chara was sent to the box with a double-minor for high sticking at 12:48 of the first period and despite having a four-minute power play, the Lightning weren’t able to score on the skater advantage.
Late in the period, Barclay Goodrow got a stick around David Pastrnak and hooked the Bruins forward, yielding a power play to Boston in the closing minutes of the opening frame at 17:46, but the B’s didn’t convert on the advantage.
The game was still tied, 0-0, after one period despite the Bruins holding an advantage in shots on goal, 8-5.
Boston also held the lead in blocked shots (10-4), while Tampa led in hits (14-10) and faceoff win percentage (59-41) heading into the first intermission.
Both teams had two takeaways and two giveaways aside, while the Lightning were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.
Early in the middle frame, Ondrej Palat (5) redirected a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk over Halak’s shoulder on the glove side, off the bar and into the twine to give Tampa the, 1-0, lead, while tying the longest postseason goal scoring streak in Lightning franchise history as Palat has scored at least one goal in the last four games.
Palat (2020), Stamkos (2015 and 2018), Vincent Lecavalier (2007) and Martin St. Louis (2003) are all tied for the team record with goals in at least four-straight playoff games for the Bolts.
Meanwhile, Shattenkirk (4) and Blake Coleman (4) had the assists on Palat’s goal at 4:21 of the second period.
Midway through the period, Kucherov tripped Charlie McAvoy and was sent to the box at 10:44, presenting Boston with their second power play of the night.
Krejci sent a pass to Pastrnak (3) for the one-timer from the dot to Vasilevskiy’s right side– beating the Bolts goaltender on the blocker side and tying the game, 1-1, with a power-play goal at 12:38 of the second period.
Krejci (8) and Patrice Bergeron (6) yielded the assists while Pastrnak recorded his 20th career postseason goal in his 52nd career Stanley Cup Playoff game.
Only three players in Bruins history required fewer games to reach 20 goals in the playoffs– Barry Pederson (24 games), Gregg Sheppard (32) and Bobby Orr (50)– while Pastrnak has 20-33–53 totals in 52 games.
About four minutes later, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Goodrow at 16:13 and the Lightning went on the power play for the third time Monday night.
Tampa’s skater advantage was cut short when Yanni Gourde hooked McAvoy at 16:56 and presented each team with a 1:17 span of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had a brief 5-on-4 power play afterwards.
Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s and Bolts were tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 23-13– including a, 15-8, advantage in the second period alone.
The Bruins also held the lead in takeaways (3-2), while the Lightning led in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (7-6), hits (29-22) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the second intermission.
Tampa was 0/3 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.
Kucherov wasn’t available for the Bolts in the third period onward while an undisclosed injury kept him out for the rest of the night.
Meanwhile, Cedric Paquette ran McAvoy from behind into the boards– worthy of at least a minor for boarding, given the standards defined in the series, but instead received no penalty whatsoever while McAvoy needed assistance from a trainer and a teammate before returning late in the third period.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Hedman sent a shot with eyes from the point that was redirected by Anthony Cirelli (2) off of Halak’s blocker and stick before it found the twine to give Tampa the, 2-1, lead at 12:03 of the third period.
Hedman (4) and Brayden Point (11) tallied the assists on Cirelli’s goal as the Lightning grabbed the lead once more and settled into their game for a few minutes.
McAvoy returned to Boston’s bench with 4:20 left in the third period, then the team rallied to tie the game, 2-2, at 17:27 of the third when Krejci (4) guided the puck into the open twine while Vasilevksiy was behind the play after Chara faked the goaltender and sent a pass to Krejci on the doorstep instead.
Chara (2) and Connor Clifton (2) collected the assists on Krejci’s game-tying goal and the B’s yanked enough momentum to carry themselves into overtime while earning a power play when Hedman tripped Ondrej Kase at 18:04.
After 60 minutes of action, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 35-21– including a, 12-8, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston also led in takeaways (3-2) and giveaways (11-9), while Tampa led in blocked shots (24-20), hits (40-34) and faceoff win% (59-41).
The Lightning were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into the first overtime period.
Cassidy opted to start Brad Marchand, Bergeron and Kase as his forwards, while sending out Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo on defense.
Cooper kicked things off in overtime with Coleman, Goodrow, Erik Cernak and McDonagh on the penalty kill before Hedman returned from the box and the Lightning could make a line change.
Midway through the first overtime period, Krejci tripped up Alex Killorn and was sent to the box at 10:27, but Tampa wasn’t able to capitalize on the power play in sudden death overtime.
Through 80 minutes of hockey on Monday night, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 46-28, despite the score remaining even at, 2-2, entering the second overtime.
Boston held the, 11-7, advantage in shots on goal in the first overtime period alone, while also leading in giveaways (15-11) entering the fourth intermission.
Tampa led in blocked shots (30-29), takeaways (5-3), hits (50-46) and faceoff win% (59-41) heading into the second overtime.
With no penalties called in the second overtime, the Bolts finished 0/4 and the B’s finished 1/4 on the power play on Monday.
Cassidy began the second overtime with Marchand, Bergeron, Kase, Clifton and Grzlecyk, while Cooper matched with Goodrow, Gourde, Coleman, Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev.
Both teams went back and forth until the ice was scrapped during a stoppage with 9:51 remaining in double overtime.
Moments later, Hedman (5) slipped a shot through Halak while Pat Maroon acted as a screen in front of the Boston netminder and sent the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final while eliminating the Bruins with the, 3-2, game-winning goal at 14:10 of the double-overtime period.
Shattenkirk (5) and Point (12) tabbed the assists on the game-winning goal as the Bolts wrapped up the series.
Boston finished Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 47-35, despite trailing Tampa, 7-1, in shots on net in the second overtime period alone.
Tampa finished the night leading in blocked shots (35-34), hits (56-53) and faceoff win% (60-40), while Boston wrapped up the night leading in giveaways (21-12) in addition to their advantage in shots on goal.
With the win, the Lightning improved to 4-0 in overtime (5-0 past regulation this postseason– they went 1-0 in shootouts in the Round Robin), while the Bruins fell to 1-2 in overtime as they were ousted from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tampa improved to 20-8, while Boston fell to 59-77-3 in all-time overtime postseason games.
The Bruins also fell to 2-3 when tied after one period, 1-3 when tied after two periods and 1-2 when tied after three periods in the 2020 postseason.
While Tampa moves on and will likely travel to Edmonton to play in the Eastern Conference Final (though there is a plan to begin the series in Toronto if the Western Conference’s Second Round matchups take too long and/or the Lightning cannot travel to Rogers Place just yet), Boston will leave the Toronto bubble and disperse for the 2020 offseason with the future uncertain.
Chara is 43-years-old and may retire, Krug is a pending-unrestricted free agent looking for a big payday as a 29-year-old defender in his prime, while Jake DeBrusk and Grzelcyk are pending-restricted free agents.
Additionally, Nordstrom is a pending-UFA who may or may not be back due to Boston’s plethora of bottom-six talent, while Kevan Miller will likely be riding into the sunset after not playing since May 2019 due to multiple knee injuries that kept him out of 2019-20 action.