Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Bruins (46-25-11, 103 Points, 3rd East)
Eastern Conference Final:Series tied 2-2.
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: Tampa Bay completed the largest comeback in franchise playoff history on Saturday afternoon to even things up at two games apiece entering tonight’s Game 5 contest at TD Garden. Just when it looked as if Boston was going to take a two-game advantage back home with a chance to move on to the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bat struck five times in a row to send a 2-2 series tie on the road, where it has won all but two of its total eight matches this postseason.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay looks to bring a 3-2 series lead back home on Wednesday pending a win tonight at TD Garden. The Lightning got off to a slow start in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon on home ice, but outplayed, outworked and most importantly, outscored Boston for the latter two period en route to a remarkable come-from-behind 5-3 win. Down 3-0 after 20 minutes, Teddy Purcell scored twice and Sean Bergenheim’s playoff-leading ninth tally of the postseason tied the game. Simon Gagne notched the game-winner and Martin St. Louis later added an empty-net goal for good measure. The victory was the largest comeback in franchise playoff history, surpassing an occurrence during the 1996 postseason when it emerged from a two-goal deficit against the Flyers. Mike Smith made his second appearance of the postseason in relief after Dwayne Roloson was pulled out of net after allowing three goals on nine shots. Smith was sensational, stopping all 21 shots faced to earn his first career postseason victory.
BRUINS – It will be interesting to see how the Bruins respond to blowing a three-goal lead in Game 4 as it returns home tonight looking to take a one-game lead over the Lightning. A series of costly Lightning turnovers in its own end led to a first-period barrage on Saturday afternoon, as the Bruins went out ahead early on a pair of goals by Patrice Bergeron and an additional tally by Michael Ryder. It would be the only tallies the Bruins would see on the night, as Tampa Bay stormed their zone with an aggressive forecheck for the final two frames, frustrating Tim Thomas by putting five consecutive goals past him. After the game, several Bruins acknowledged that the team relaxed a little bit following the early lead, which allowed the Bolts to gain some momentum and turn things around. The defeat highlighted an unfavorable trend for the Bruins as well, as Saturday’s game was the second time in consecutive playoff years that Boston has surrendered a three-goal lead to lose a postseason game. The three-goal outburst turned in by the Lightning to tie the game was also the second of the series allowed by Boston, after the Bolts scored a team-playoff record three times in a 1:25 spurt of their 5-2 win in Game 1.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Teddy Purcell has points in nine out of his past 12 games, including two goals in Saturday’s Game 4 win, giving him 15 points in that span, while Martin St. Louis has collected nine points in his last seven. Vincent Lecavalier has seven points in his past six contests as well for the Bolts. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron has two points in as many games since returning from injury and Michael Ryder has scored three goals and five points in his past three outings.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Pavel Kubina (upper body, day-to-day) and Steve Downie (day-to-day). BRUINS – None.
Notable Quotable: “He gave a great speech. He was calm and all he told us was, ‘when you believe, anything is possible.’ We’ve been in that situation all year and we were always able to come back, so we were really positive.” – Simon Gagne, on what head coach Guy Boucher told his team after a 3-0 deficit at the first intermission of Game 4, eventually won by the Lightning.