By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Led by Jaroslav Halak, and with a slight nail-biter finish, the Bruins took the first battle of the second-round war between the Bruins and Lightning, winning Sunday’s Game 1 contest by a 3-2 final at Scotiabank Arena.
In a first period of bodyblows, the Bruins broke a scoreless frame with Brad Marchand turning nothing into something.
Into the Tampa zone, but without many options, No. 63 danced his way into a feed to Brandon Carlo, whose shot destined for Lighting netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy’s glove was tipped by Charlie Coyle at what felt like an impossible angle. But the Weymouth, Mass. native got perfect composite on the Carlo shot, and put the Bruins on the board 1:08 left in the period.
Up 1-0 and sent to their second power-play chance of the evening, it was Torey Krug and David Krejci who decided to grind an exhausted Tampa Bay penalty kill down to dust on their way to putting the B’s on the board on their second goal.
With the Lightning unable to clear the zone, a switch and reset from the Krejci-Krug combo allowed Krejci to wait out Tampa’s killers before a beautiful feed a wide-open David Pastrnak for his second goal of the postseason, scored 4:34 into the second.
That score held through 40 minutes of play, too, and with a magnificent Halak save on the Bolts’ Barclay Goodrow highlighting what was an 18-save period from Boston’s 35-year-old de facto starting goaltender.
The Bruins pushed their lead to three early in the third, too, and this time from some straight-up dogged determined from the B’s first line, with Patrice Bergeron outworking Ryan McDonagh for a puck, creating a bang-bang finish from Pastrnak to Marchand.
The Lightning would not go down without a punch, even if it was a somewhat flukey one, as a Victor Hedman wrist shot made its way through traffic and by Halak at the 8:50 mark of the third period. Hedman’s shot was the first of the third period for the Bolts, too, giving Halak his third first-shot-first-goal experience in 12 periods of hockey this postseason.
(The Bruins are going to start letting teams just take a shot on Halak right off the jump if this keeps up.)
Hedman was not done.
Off an icing and with 1:14 left in the game, it was another Hedman shot through traffic that gave Halak & Co. fits, this time with a clear bounce off Charlie McAvoy and into the Boston net to make it a one-goal game.
But the Bruins buckled down, and with a strong finishing shift from McAvoy, to close this game out.
For Halak, it was his fourth win in as many starts this postseason, this time behind a 35-for-37 performance in the Boston crease, while Vasilevskiy lost with a 28-of-31 effort.
Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie, meanwhile, returned to the Boston lineup and as Charlie Coyle’s wings on the third line. Bjork finished with three shots in 8:58 of play, while Ritchie added five hits in his 9:32. With Bjork and Ritchie back in action, Par Lindholm and Jack Studnicka sat as the Black and Gold’s healthy scratches up front.
The teams will reconvene for a 7 p.m. Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.