Purcell steps up to lead Lightning rally
His two goals in 63 seconds started the rally for Tampa Bay as the Lightning erased a three-tally deficit and defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"That's what I like about our team -- you never know who is going to make that big goal to be the difference," said forward Simon Gagne, who scored the go-ahead goal in the third period. "It starts with Teddy tonight. I think he was the difference tonight for us coming back from 3-0 and scoring two big goals. That's what I like about our team -- the balance."
Just 63 seconds later, Purcell snapped a wicked wrist shot into the top right corner of the net after a pass from Mattias Ohlund. They were the third and fourth goals of this postseason for Purcell, who also has 11 assists and is tied for fifth in the League in playoff scoring with 15 points.
"I was coming off the change on the first one and [Gagne] and [Ryan Malone] did a real good job causing pressure and taking them in," Purcell said. "[Gagne] made a real nice play out to me just kind of faked the shot and just put it on net.
"The second one was the same shift. We came down and were putting pressure on them and we had guys at the net and I don't think Thomas saw it. I put it on the net and luckily it went in. So it was a good chip for me and it's one I'll always remember, that's for sure."
Purcell was very successful at the USHL, college and AHL levels, but had only 10 goals in 91 games with the Los Angeles Kings in a series of callus while battling for a spot on one of the top two lines. The Kings decided he was expendable and shipped him to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline last season in a deal that sent veteran center Jeff Halpern to L.A.
Purcell, now 25, often found a spot on one of Tampa Bay's top two lines this season and finished with 17 goals and 51 points. He's continued to produce in the postseason, confirming that he can be a key member of the Lightning organization for years to come.
"He's always had poise with the puck," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "I think what we were discovering with Teddy now is that when it's a tough game, when it's a close environment type of game where there's not much space out there, he can do the same now as what he was doing before when he had a lot of space. And to me, that's a major evolution of his game, because that means that what he was doing in the American League and college ranks, he can be doing in games now and not just during the regular season; he was doing it in the biggest games.
"So I think he's progressed so much -- real proud of him. And showing up like he did today certainly inspires the rest of the group. It falls into what we are -- every day you don't know which guy is going to make the difference."
Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer