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Lightning-Bruins: Boston’s top line was as good as advertised

Boston's Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for 11 points in the Bruins' 6-2 victory in Game 1
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) contend with the ever present Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) while Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) hold back Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) during the second period of Saturdays (4/28/18) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round semifinal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) contend with the ever present Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) while Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) hold back Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) during the second period of Saturdays (4/28/18) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round semifinal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Published Apr. 29, 2018

TAMPA — There was Brad Marchand standing all alone to the right of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"I messed up on that," Tyler Johnson said. "I should have been on him."

Marchand scored, of course, because it was that kind of game for the Lightning.

Boston's top scoring line did not have many scoring chances, but it made of the most of the ones it had during the Bruins' 6-2 win Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"Effective. I think, that's the word," Anton Stralman said.

Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for 11 points with Bergeron scoring twice and adding an assist, Marchand with a goal and three assists and Pastrnak with four assists.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he did not think the Bergeron line had 10 scoring chances, and yet it wrecked the Lightning's chances of holding serve for the home-ice advantage with a Game 1 victory.

"That's hockey," Johnson said. "There's times where you don't really have very much of an opportunity and then you do and score. They have the skill on that top line and we can do that. We have to do a better job, and I know we can do that. It's a challenge playing against them, and I know we can do that."

The Bruins top line, probably the best line in the NHL, produced 228 points during the regular season and 21 in the seven-game, Round 1 series against the Leafs.

The Leafs extended that series to seven games by holding the Bergeron line scoreless in the three games they won.

That is what the line will be charged with. Finding a way to stop the nearly unstoppable.

Cooper had his top defensive line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Johnson on Bergeron and company. Point was minus-5, Palat was minus-4 and Johnson was minus-3.

"I don't think I can sit here on any one of those goals and point to (Point) on that," Cooper said. "One of (the goals) was a bad change, they got hung out to dry. It was just some tough coverage moments where everything they shot went in, and they were opportunistic. That's how you win games."

Stralman and Ryan McDonagh, the defenseman paired with the Point line, finished minus-4 and minus-3 respectively.

"Obviously," McDonagh said, "that top line was as advertised and took it to us and was the difference for sure."

Bergeron's two goals were the result of being left alone in front of the net. Same with Marchand, who redirected a slap-pass from Charlie McAvoy to give the Bruins a 4-2 just 3:32 into the third period. That was a back-breaker of a goal.

Marchand chased down a loose puck behind the net, fed it in front then lost Johnson skated to the side of the goal, where he waited unchecked for the puck to arrive.

"I think we got a couple of lucky plays," Marchand said. "We didn't have a ton of zone time or anything. We got a couple plays that bounced our way. That ice is horrendous, so sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't. We just got a couple lucky ones today."

Luck, maybe. Experience, for sure.

"They've been playing together for a while. They know where to find each other," Cooper said of Bergeron and Marchand. "They play both ends of the rink. They play on Olympic teams, World Cup teams. Every time you look up and Canada is winning, usually Marchand or Bergeron had something to do with it. They're good players."

The Lightning has to find a way to stop that line Monday in Game 2 or it could be a quick series for the top-seed in the east.

"Who's ever out there against them you can't stress enough how aware you have to be of each and every member of that line and be smarter with your decisions with the puck," Steven Stamkos said. "They compete extremely hard. Those guys are obviously very skilled, but the competition level is very high, as well. Whoever is going to be tasked if we change next game or Pointer's line, you know those guys are going to be a lot better. We have faith in that."

Contact Roger Mooney at rmooney@tampabay.com. Follow @rogermooney50

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