Tampa Bay Lightning's Amazing 2011 NHL Playoff Run Comes to an End

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIMay 28, 2011

Vincent Lecavalier can't watch as the Bruins celebrate the Eastern conference Championship
Vincent Lecavalier can't watch as the Bruins celebrate the Eastern conference ChampionshipElsa/Getty Images

As the final seconds ticked off, you could see the anguish in the face of Martin St. Louis and Dwayne Roloson. Both are cagey veterans on the backside of their careers; they knew this opportunity might not come again.

Roloson played one of his best games of the playoffs after struggling most of the series. He made 37 saves—many of the ten bell variety—and held his hockey team in the game.

Yet it was the strength and defensive prowess of the Boston Bruins that would ultimately do the Lightning in.

Over two and a half periods of hockey, neither team found the back of the net in Game 7 despite a myriad of chances on both sides.

The veteran goalies, who had struggled much of the series were dueling. As Boston's Tim Thomas would make a huge save, Roloson would answer. For a lot of the game, Roloson had to answer more than a few times.

Finally, at the 12:27 mark of the third, Boston's Nathan Horton, all alone in front of the net, had a "look what I found" tip-in goal.

That's all the Bruins needed to clamp down and clog any of the Lightning's chances to score.

It wasn't the first time this series the Bruins were able to stymie the Lightning's attack. It was the first time the real Roloson decided to make an appearance, which made this game one of the most spine-tingling and dramatic dramatic of the series.

As the game wore on, you just knew that first goal would be crucial.

Steven Stamkos, the Bolts sniper, took a puck to the nose earlier in the contest, but he courageously returned to the game and had some golden chances to score.

Unfortunately, it would be miscommunication between the Lightning superstar and defenseman Mattais Ohlund that led to Horton's game winner.

It was a tough way for the Lightning to finish, considering how hard they had fought to get to this point—one win away from playing for the Stanley Cup.

"There was nothing left in the tank," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said to the St. Pete Times. "If people knew how banged up guys are right now, it's incredible. We're talking about (Pavel) Kubina and (Sean) Bergenheim not playing, but there's guys playing in there, their bodies are just barely hanging on."

Battered and bruised, the Lightning finally succumbed to the physical presence of the Bruins.

Game 7 went as it should have, down to the wire between two equally matched team. At the beginning of the series, not much separated Tampa Bay and Boston's hockey clubs. At the end, it was a single goal.