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Grading the Lightning’s series clincher: Buh-bye, Bruins

Mostly high marks for the home team in knocking out the team that plagued it in the regular season.
The Lightning's Brayden Point (21) beats Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) for a second-period goal. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published May 6, 2018
Updated May 7, 2018

This just in: Ryan Callahan did not try to kiss Brad Marchand during the postgame handshakes.

The Lightning did not read the memo about this being a long series. Tampa Bay wrote its own memo, and the Bruins are gone after five games. They were beaten soundly and systemically, with Lightning depth, Lightning toughness and the kind of emotion that produces playoff wins, not kissing.

Bye-bye, bad Brad.

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Bring on Ovie and the Capitals. Or Sid the Kid and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

This series is done.

The Lightning, waxed by the Bruins in the regular season, was better than Boston in this series. When the teams played 5-on-5 hockey, it wasn't close. When the Brayden Point line was out there, it wasn't close. When push came to shove, the Lightning pushed and shoved.

Now some rest. The Lightning is halfway down the road to the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are on the side of it.

Comeback kid

Point could not have had a worse start to this series, with the minus-5 to prove it. He was overwhelmed. Then he whelmed back. He was the best player in the series the rest of the way. He scored on a backhander to give the Lightning a 1-all tie — not the magic of Game 4 in Boston, but it would do. Then he grinded after losing a faceoff, kept the play alive for Nikita Kucherov, who fed J.T. Miller for Miller's one-timer goal. Grade: A

Muscle Beach

The Lightning was the more physical team Sunday, especially in the neutral zone, and that slowly, inexorably turned the tide against Boston after it grabbed a 1-0 lead. Grade: A

Rangers South update

J.T. Miller, who came over from the Rangers with Ryan McDonagh, has begun to impact this postseason. He set up Steven Stamkos on the tying goal in Game 4 and scored one himself Sunday. He also smashed into Boston's David Backes, face on face, and lived to talk about it. Backes never returned to the game. Grade: A

Boston’s Kevan Miller (86), left, helps teammate David Backes (42) off the ice with the help of Jake DeBrusk (74), right, during the second period. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

Dead calm

Jon Cooper's team was methodical and systemic in the 3-1 win, as it was in sweeping up in Boston. Panic was never an option, or so it seemed. The Lightning defense always seemed to make the right play, like when Ryan McDonagh's stick stopped a pass from Patrice Bergeron to Marchand — or when the penalty kill stepped up when McDonagh went to the box late in the game. Grade: A

Well, it wasn’t perfect

Yanni Gourde made an awful pass that got the Bruins buzzing for a couple of minutes. No harm, but it's what you can't do up 2-1, and what the Lightning hadn't done much of all series.  Grade: D

You can’t do this, either

The Bruins had success on the power play in the series. It's lone goal Sunday came that way. The penalty kill had been a Lightning problem all season. Do that again, against Ovechkin and the Caps or Crosby and the Pens, and it's real trouble. Grade: C

He has your back

Andrei Vasilevskiy only faced 28 shots, but 14 came in the third period, and several of them were grade-A scoring chances. He stopped them all. Vasilevskiy appears in fighting form for the conference final. Grade: B+

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