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Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Bruins (46-25-11, 103 Points, 3rd East)
Eastern Conference Final: Series tied 1-1.
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: Boston snapped Tampa Bay’s playoff franchise record-tying eight-game win streak, as well as its postseason record six-game road win streak, on Tuesday night with a 6-5 victory in Game 2. Rather than sitting comfortable with a 2-0 series lead as it returns home, the Bolts and Bruins are knotted up at one game apiece entering the first of two matches at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returns home tonight to kick off the home portion of the Eastern Conference Final, with a Game 4 matinee Saturday afternoon set to follow. The Bolts looked destined for a ninth straight victory early on in Game 2 when Adam Hall set a franchise playoff record for the fastest goal scored to start a game, lighting the lamp just 13 seconds in. Tampa Bay also made more history when it became the first team ever in the NHL playoffs to score a goal in the first 15 seconds of a period and again in the final 15 seconds. Boston, however, stormed back following a 2-1 deficit at the intermission, scoring five goals in the second period alone to take a commanding 6-3 lead into the third, which was met by a valiant comeback effort that fell just short at the end of regulation. Dwayne Roloson yielded net minding duties to Mike Smith for the majority of the third period, while Vincent Lecavalier set a single-game franchise playoff record with four points.
BRUINS – Boston will hit the road for the first of two tonight before the series shifts back to TD Garden for Game 5. Much continues to be made about the absence of Patrice Bergeron in the Bruins lineup, but Tyler Seguin proved he was up to the task of filling the forward’s big shoes in Game 2 on Tuesday. Seguin and Michael Ryder each had two goals in a 6-5 outburst of offense between the two teams, and Nathan Horton and David Krejci also scored for Boston, who despite allowing five goals, received key saves at crucial times from goaltender Tim Thomas. Boston also seemed to solve Tampa Bay’s stellar penalty killing unit, which had been flawless entering Tuesday’s game. The Lightning entered Game 2 as the only team in the postseason to not allow an opposing power-play goal on the road, however the Bruins struck twice out of six opportunities throughout the night to help lead them to victory.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Teddy Purcell has points in five out of his past six games with eight points in that span, while Martin St. Louis has collected eight points in his last five. Sean Bergenheim has goals in six of his past eight games and Vincent Lecavalier has six points in his past four contests for the Bolts. Boston’s Nathan Horton enters tonight with points in six of the past seven games, amassing four goals and seven assists in that span, and Brad Marchand has seven points in as many games for the Bruins. David Krejci has also added 10 points in his last six contests.
Notable Quotable: “That’s exactly what he is. He’s resilient. He’s somebody that has tremendous concentration and you know he always bounces back. We’re not expecting anything less from him than what we’ve gotten throughout the year. I’m not worried.” – Guy Boucher, on how goaltender Dwayne Roloson will respond in Game 3 tonight following Tuesday’s Game 2 defeat
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