TAMPA — It was a game the Lightning had to have, and it came out like it was out to have it. It out-shot the Boston Bruins 10-0 in the first 13 minutes of Game 2. Yanni Gourde scored. The Bruins had little or no space. It was just what the Lightning needed.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was 1-1.
But then it wasn't. And it stayed that way in a 4-2 win Monday at Amalie Arena that evened the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1.
The Lightning went hard at the Bruins.
It was Boston that blinked.
Tense, taut. Win or go to Boston in a deep hole. Taut, tense.
On to Boston for Game 3.
Oh, those playoffs.
Here are the grades:
Lightning center Brayden Point was a minus-5 in the series opener against the Bruins' vaunted Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-David Pastrnak line. He had a goal and three assists as he came back strong, with linemates Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. They took the action to the Bergeron unit. Johnson and Palat scored and Point sealed it with an empty-net goal. And Johnson won his faceoff battles with Bergeron. Grade: A.
The Lightning was all over the first period, right from puck drop. It flew, it cycled, it got in the Bruins' faces, just like was needed. No messing around and it paid off with a Yanni Gourde goal. Grade: A
How do you stop the Bruins on a 5-on-3 advantage and do nothing with it? Boston fed off it, kept coming and scored not long after the kill was done. Grade: C
You can’t give them an inch
All it took was a lousy icing call by officials — Steven Stamkos was blocked from getting to the puck by Zdeno Chara, among others. Boston got in the Lightning end, and even though the Lightning got it out, the Bruins were soon back in, Marchand to Bergeron to defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Grade: C
The Lightning fourth line of Cedric Paquette, Ryan Callahan and Chris Kunitz were all over the Bruins and threw their weight around. It helped set the tone. Grade: A
Before the series, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Andrei Vasilevskiy could go eight or nine minutes without seeing a shot, then step up big. Vasilevskiy did that Monday, big saves when they were needed, matching Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Still Vasilevskiy can't give up that second Boston goal, shoddy work, which would have tied it if Palat had not given the Lightning a 3-1 lead. Grade: B
Whenever you’re ready, 91
Still no stirring from the greatest Lightning goal scorer, though Stamkos had a great chance in the first period. And a quiet night for Nikita Kucherov through two periods. They need to keep to break through. Grade: D
Contact Martin Fennelly at email@example.com. Follow @mjfennelly