Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Bruins (46-25-11, 103 Points, 3rd East)
Eastern Conference Final:Tampa Bay leads 1-0.
Regular Season Series: Despite entering the Eastern Conference Finals with identical records and a matching point total, the Bruins took three of four games from the Lightning during the regular campaign. None of those victories, however, were earned against goaltender Dwayne Roloson, as two of them occurred prior to his arrival in Tampa Bay, while the other came against Mike Smith. Prior to losing three straight to the Bruins, the Lightning took the first contest of the regular season series on Nov. 22.
The Big Story: Saturday’s victory in Game 1 tied the Bolts’ franchise record for most consecutive wins in the postseason at eight. Tampa Bay has won each of its games since April 20, including six straight on the road which a new franchise playoff record, while the Bruins have victories in five of their last six contests. A lot of each club’s success has come as a result of its offense, as Tampa Bay and Boston enter tonight’s Game 2, respectively, as the highest-scoring units in the 2011 playoffs.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will wrap up the second of two games tonight at TD Garden before the series shifts to home ice for Games 3 and 4 later this week. Much was made prior to Game 1 about how the Bolts would come out in the opening stages of the Eastern Conference Final after having approximately 10 days off in between games. The time off seemed to have little effect, as the Lightning struck three times within a span of 1:25 in the first period to set the tone for the remainder of the contest. Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark and Teddy Purcell put Tampa Bay out to a 3-0 cushion, while also setting a new playoff team record, before Boston put its first goal on the board. Marc-Andre Bergeron added his second power-play goal of the postseason and Simon Gagne, in his first action since missing three games due to injury, sealed the win with an empty-net tally in the closing minutes.
BRUINS – Boston will host Game 2 tonight with the advantage of its home crowd and try to avoid falling down into a 2-0 hole early on in the series before things shift to Tampa Bay. Although Tim Thomas entered Game 1 with similar numbers to Dwayne Roloson, it was the Lightning net minder who cruised through the night with little difficulty. Thomas gave up three early goals in a period of 85 seconds, and although Tyler Seguin got the Bruins to within two before the first horn sounded, Boston never was really able to recover. Tampa Bay went on to score twice more throughout the night to ensure that the first Eastern Conference Finals game in Boston since 1992 was anything but an enjoyable moment for the home fans in attendance.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Teddy Purcell comes in riding a five-game point streak with eight points in that span, while Martin St. Louis has collected six points in his last four. Sean Bergenheim has also continued his torrid scoring pace for Tampa Bay, as he comes into Game 2 with goals in six of his past seven games. Boston’s Nathan Horton enters tonight with points in five of the past six games, amassing three goals and five assists in that span, and Brad Marchand has seven points in his past six games for the Bruins as well. David Krejci has also added nine points in his last five contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Pavel Kubina (upper body, day-to-day) and Dana Tyrell (lower body, day-to-day). BRUINS – Patrice Bergeron (concussion, day-to-day).
Notable Quotable: “We don’t really feel like we have accomplished a lot. There’s nothing to be cocky or arrogant about. We’re a team that plays our system and stays to what the coaching staff tells us to do. No one person is bigger than anyone else. Everybody is working on the same page, trying to help the guy beside him and help the team.” – Dwayne Roloson, on what has made the team so successful in the playoffs.
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