Lightning Rout Bruins in Game 3 to Take 2-1 Series Lead

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 27, 2020

Tampa Bay Lightning's Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots while being checked by Boston Bruins' Charlie Coyle during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Make it two in a row for the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

After dropping Game 1 to the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay has won two games in 24 hours to take a 2-1 series lead following Wednesday's 7-1 blowout victory in Game 3. 

Boston was forced to play from behind early after surrendering a 2-0 lead in the first period. Jaroslav Halak misplayed two of the first six shots he faced and gave up a power play goal for the first time all series. After Tuesday's back-and-forth action, Game 3 gave the Lightning an opportunity to play with an early lead and sustain pressure on the Bruins.

It worked out well for them.

Tampa finished with 31 shots as they took control of the series heading into Game 4.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

The @TBLightning score 15 seconds apart to establish a franchise record for fastest two goals in a playoff game. https://t.co/ko9SVFdHco #NHLStats #StanleyCup https://t.co/Rd7xv8qJPJ

Notable Performers

Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 goal, 3 assists, 3 SOG

Alex Killorn, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning: 2 goals, 1 assist, 4 SOG, 6 Hits

Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 goal, 2 assists, 2 SOG

Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins: 1 goal, 1 SOG, 2 Hits

Lighting Power Play Surge 

On Tuesday the Tampa Bay power play was the team's biggest issue. Only 24 hours later it was the Lightning's biggest strength.

The Bolts snapped out of their special teams funk by going three-for-six on the man-advantage in Game 3 after failing to score on their previous 15 attempts. With Steven Stamkos unfit to play, the Lightning needed to find a way to keep its power play unit productive. 

Wednesday gave them the blueprint. 

Fresh off scoring Tuesday's overtime winner, Ondrej Palat nabbed the Game 3's opening goal after Tampa Bay was able to pull Boston's defense to the left side of the ice, leaving the backdoor open for a Palat one-timer. It's a play the team would normally look to Stamkos on. Palat delivered just as well. 

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

Pally converts!! 🚨 https://t.co/xEkG44zya2

It was the same play the Lightning ran in on a power play in the second period, but instead of swinging the puck all the way across the ice, Blake Coleman tapped it back to Mikhail Segachev at the point for another one-timer. 

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

All alone up top and Sergy makes it count 🎯 https://t.co/i45ll4X0N1

The play nearly worked a third time later in the period, but Palat couldn't gather the puck to fire a one-timer. Instead, he threw it on net where Alex Killorn was waiting to clean up the rebound. 

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

Never give up on the puck. 👏 https://t.co/60BXcajGvW

In an absolute throttling of the Bruins on Wednesday, it was the re-emergence of the Lighting power play that should give Boston the most pause going forward. 

Vladar's Disastrous Debut

It should be quickly pointed out that nothing that took during the loss for Boston is the fault of backup goalie Daniel Vladar, but you can forgive the rookie goaltender if he feels a bit slighted by the Bruins. 

After Halak gave up four goals on 16 shots, Boston pulled their starter and put Vladar in net for his NHL debut—asking the 23-year-old to slow down an onslaught from one of the best offenses in hockey in a pivotal playoff game.

That's certainly one way to welcome a goalie to the NHL. 

It only took seven minutes before Tampa provided a welcome of its own in the form of a Brayden Point breakaway the rookie had no chance of stopping. 

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

Brayden on the breakaway. 💨 https://t.co/gJjeABkCO8

The Lightning would continue to pile on with two more goals over the remaining 25 minutes in regulation. 

Of course, Vladar was hardly expected to participate this postseason. He ended up as Boston's No. 2 goalie out of necessity after starter Tuukka Rask opted out during the First Round against the Carolina Hurricanes to rejoin his family. 

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

Two goals and a helper for 17 tonight. 🙌 https://t.co/1JVGvfVm0w

That bumped Halak up to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and moved Vladar onto the radar of every Bruins fan.

Vladar's career can only get better from here. 

What's Next

Game 4 between the Bruins and Lightning is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 28 on USA Network.