Lightning-Bruins: Can’t knock the 5-on-3 blocks

Fans gets a kick out of Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) trading unpleasantries with Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) during a scrum. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Fans gets a kick out of Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) trading unpleasantries with Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) during a scrum. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published April 30 2018
Updated April 30 2018

TAMPA — The Lightning didn't face a single shot on goal in the opening 14 minutes Monday night, then suddenly faced a furious challenge from the Boston Bruins where Tampa Bay has been most vulnerable.

Tampa Bay's penalty kill ranked 27th in the NHL in the regular season, and Boston's power play ranked fourth, also converting on its only power play in Saturday's Game 1 win.

But a pair of roughing penalties 17 seconds apart meant the Bruins had an extended 5-on-3, with Tyler Johnson and Ryan McDonagh both in the penalty box after hits on Boston's Brad Marchand.

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had made three saves in a span of eight seconds before the second penalty, stepped up big, with plenty of help in front of him. Tampa Bay got three shots blocked in 20 seconds — by Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman — with one more save by Vasilevskiy to close out the 5-on-3.

"Obviously it gives you a boost when you kill off a 5-on-3 like that," Callahan said. "I thought we had a really good first period, ended up being 1-1, but you look at it, think 'They had a 5-on-3 and we're still 1-1,' it gave us some energy going into that second period. Obviously a big point in the game."

In the previous series, New Jersey had converted on both 5-on-3 opportunities, so the stop was a jolt of confidence. Boston tied the score with an even-strength goal late in the first, but the tone was set on special-teams with the extended kill.

"They get a minute-45 5-on-3 and you need your goalie to be your best penalty-killer, but Ryan Callahan was right with him," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "His sacrifice. That's a tough job to have, to be that guy who has to go out and do that. Who knows if they score on that. Just an outstanding effort by him."

League leaders

Johnson's goal in the second period gave him 23 in the playoffs since 2015, tied with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for second-most in the NHL in that span. Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov tops the list with 26, despite the Lightning not making the playoffs last year.

Johnson's goal also tied him with Vincent Lecavalier — in attendance Monday night — for third-most playoff goals in Lightning history, with 24.

Stepping up

Faceoffs in Game 1 were nearly even, with the Lightning earning a 26-25 edge, but Tampa Bay had much better control Monday night. Tampa Bay held a 27-15 edge in the first two periods, winning 64 percent, including a key 3-for-3 edge in overlapping Boston power plays. Hedman went 6-1, Johnson went 8-3 and Steven Stamkos went 5-2 in those first two periods, going a combined 19-6 against a tough faceoff team.

This and that

Tampa Bay ramped up its physical play in the second period, piling up 22 hits against only nine for the Bruins. D Ryan McDonagh had five himself in the period, while D Anton Stralman had four. … The Tampa Bay Rowdies' Kyle Curinga, Jochen Graf and Jack Blake served as the Lightning's social media captains for the night. … Yanni Gourde's goal 11:57 into the game gave the Lightning an early lead, a priority after falling behind in Game 1. "The big thing we talked about was 'Let's make them chase us,'" said Cooper, whose team never trailed in Monday's game.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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