Victor Hedman made sure he did one thing before leaving the ice at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Monday night: grab the puck from his goal in the second overtime that gave the Lightning a 3-2 win over the Bruins and sent them to the Eastern Conference final.
“To be honest, I didn’t see it go in,” Hedman said, chuckling. “I saw everyone celebrating, so I obviously had a good feeling. It was a little harder to find that (puck).”
The Lightning beat the Bruins in five games in their semifinal to head to the conference final for the fourth time in six seasons.
A scoreless first period led to a busier second period. Lightning forward Ondrej Palat got the opening goal — his fifth goal in the past four games — on a tip of a shot by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Palat tied the franchise record for the longest goal streak in the playoffs at four games. Steven Stamkos — who has yet to play in this year’s playoffs because of injury — was the last to get a four-game goal streak in the postseason, in 2018.
Later in the second period, a Boston power-play opportunity allowed forward David Krejci to fake a shot from the right, stealing goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s attention, and instead, he passed the puck to forward David Pastrnak on the left, who one-timed it past Vasilevskiy to tie the score at 1.
The third period saw late goals from both teams. Forward Anthony Cirelli gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead on a tip of a Hedman’s shot from the blue line. Hedman’s assist on the play made him the franchise’s all-time assist leader in the postseason with 45.
With 2:33 remaining in regulation, Krejci tied it with a shot on the right side as Vasilevskiy guarded the left post.
A scoreless first overtime saw some great chances from Boston as it outshot Tampa Bay 6-0 in the first seven minutes.
In the second overtime, Hedman found an opening in goal on the right side of Jaroslav Halak at 14:10.
“Clearly we’re getting used to (overtime),” coach Jon Cooper said. “If you want to advance, you have to win these games. It’s all there is to it, and it was gutsy (Monday).”
The Lightning welcomed back defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who missed three straight games after an injury in Game 1. He had 31:50 of ice time, the second highest time among the Lightning defensemen behind Hedman’s 38:25, and he had six hits and three blocked shots.
McDonagh said he knew he’d be back in the lineup after Monday’s morning skate. He said he felt good and gave credit to the defense for its work in an adjusted lineup while he was out.
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The Lightning lost Nikita Kucherov after the wing took a high stick to the face from Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara in the first period. Without Kucherov, the Lightning had to play the third period and overtime with 10 forwards since they opted for an 11-forward, seven-defensemen lineup.
“We knew it was going to be a battle of will there,” McDonagh said about missing Kucherov. “It was a lot of adversity in different fashions tonight, probably wasn’t as pretty as we liked, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m really proud of everybody just picking each other up and getting through the ups and downs of the game.”
The Lightning’s win gave Vasilevskiy the 21st of his playoff career, tying him for first in the league with Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Washington’s Braden Holtby since the start of the 2018 postseason.
He had the second-most saves (45) he has made in a game this season, following his 61 against the Blue Jackets in the five-overtime, 3-2 win in Game 1 of the first round.
“Not only is our team playing well, but our goaltender’s playing well, and it really helps when you’re getting contributions from everyone,” Cooper said
“(Vasilevskiy is) feeling pretty fresh. … Guys want to be on the ice to write a new story (this season). He’s no different, and he’s done a heck of a job, that’s for sure.”
First Period—None. Penalties—Chara, Bos (High Sticking), 12:48; Goodrow, TB (Hooking), 17:46.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Palat 5 (Shattenkirk, Coleman), 4:21. 2, Boston, Pastrnak 3 (Krejci, Bergeron), 12:38 (pp). Penalties—Kucherov, TB (Tripping), 10:44; Grzelcyk, Bos (Hooking), 16:13; Gourde, TB (Hooking), 16:56.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Cirelli 2 (Point, Hedman), 12:03. 4, Boston, Krejci 4 (Clifton, Chara), 17:27. Penalties—Hedman, TB (Tripping), 18:04.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Krejci, Bos (Tripping), 10:27.
Overtime (2)—5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 5 (Shattenkirk, Point), 14:10. Penalties—None.
Shots on Goal—Boston 8-15-12-11-1_47. Tampa Bay 5-8-8-7-7_35. Power-play opportunities—Boston 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—Boston, Halak 4-3-2 (35 shots-32 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 10-3-0 (47-45). T—3:58. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Jean Hebert. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Michel Cormier.