Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Bruins (46-25-11, 103 Points, 3rd East)
Eastern Conference Final:Boston leads 2-1.
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: After stringing together a stretch of eight consecutive wins, Tampa Bay has now dropped two straight to fall behind the Bruins 2-1 as it enters Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final tonight. Thursday’s 2-0 shutout of the Bolts marked the first time since Apr. 18 and 20, when the Bolts fell in Games 3 and 4 to the Penguins during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, that the Lightning have suffered setbacks in two consecutive postseason games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay looks to even up the series on home ice tonight before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday night. A raucous sellout home crowd of over 20,000 at the St. Pete Times Forum was quickly settled down in the early stages of Game 3, as David Krejci scored the first of two goals for the Bruins just over a minute into the contest en route to a 2-0 shutout. Despite registering a 31-25 shot advantage, Tampa Bay had trouble creating offensive, as the Bruins’ defense forced the Bolts to carry the puck almost the length of the ice to generate chances. To its credit, Tampa Bay did create some solid scoring opportunities off neutral-zone turnovers, but were foiled by Tim Thomas, whose 31-save effort was cushioned by a late goal from Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who sealed the victory.
BRUINS – Boston will attempt to steal two consecutive games from the Bolts, beginning tonight in Game 4, before it returns home to TD Garden on Monday night with what could potentially be a 3-1 series lead. Tim Thomas made 31 saves in Game 3 to earn his second career postseason shutout in a defensive and low-scoring effort that proved quite the contrast from the first two meetings between the clubs. David Krejci scored 1:09 into the game to dictate play, which was characterized by a tight-checking defensive stand by the Bruins that allowed the Lightning few scoring chances. All night long, Boston frustrated Tampa Bay by cycling the puck and getting shots in deep, which was no more obvious then when Andrew Ference added a goal late in the third period from the point to end it for Boston, as it nursed a 2-0 lead until the final horn.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Teddy Purcell has points in five out of his past seven games with eight points in that span, while Martin St. Louis has collected eight points in his last six. Vincent Lecavalier has six points in his past five contests for the Bolts. Boston’s David Krejci had a goal in Game 3 and now has 11 points in his last seven contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Pavel Kubina (upper body, day-to-day) and Dana Tyrell (lower body, day-to-day). BRUINS – None.
Notable Quotable: “No, I wouldn’t say we were out of sync. There was another team in front of us. It's not like we're playing a bantam team that is just going to let us run around and have our breakaways. That was more of a playoff game between two teams that pride themselves on playing tight, and that's why we're here. If we weren't like that, we wouldn't be here. They played well, and we played just as well. It came down to a mistake here and there.” – Guy Boucher, following a 2-0 defeat in Game 3 on Thursday night.