By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals are here, and the Bruins have reclaimed home-ice advantage after defeating the Lightning 2-0 on May 19th. A quick goal by David Krejci in the first period was all the Bruins needed to win game three; however, Andrew Ference scored as well, and Boston won 2-0. The Bruins looked to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, while the Lightning looked to even up the series. In seven-game series, the Bruins are 18-8 when up 2-1 in the series. Both team’s lineups would stay the same as they were in game three, Tim Thomas and Dwyane Roloson got the start in net, and game four was underway at the St. Pete Times Arena.
Bruins Rolling in the First
The puck was dropped, and game four was upon us. Two minutes into the period, the Bruins put early pressure on Roloson. A quick one-time shot from Ference was stopped, and the period progressed. Fast-forward to a little past the halfway mark, and the Bruins were able to get on the scoreboard first. A turnover behind the Tampa Bay net led to Bergeron stealing the puck, and Bergeron put it between Roloson’s pads five-hole. It was 1-0 Boston with 8:10 left in the first. The next five minutes of the period was played, and Boston found the back of the net again. Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly skated a 2-on-1 breakaway, Ryder held on to the puck, deked left to right, and shot it off a Tampa player’s stick, and it went in. It was 2-0 Boston with a little over three minutes to play in the first.
2:09 left in the period, Tampa Bay was getting a chance to cut the deficit back to one. Seidenberg was called for holding the stick, and the Lightning were on the first powerplay of the night. A golden opportunity for Tampa resulted in Boston creating a turnover and scoring again. Just six seconds into the Tampa powerplay, Bergeron stole the puck in the middle of the ice, skated in, and shot it five-hole past Roloson. It was now 3-0 Boston. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher had seen enough of Roloson and decided to pull him and substitute in Mike Smith. Roloson allowed 3 goals on 9 shots. It was not a good outing for Roloson, but the period went on, and Tampa still had 1:54 remaining on their powerplay.
Boston killed off the penalty, and nine ticks were left on the clock. As the horn sounded and the period ended, things were getting heated. A scuffle behind the Bruins net led to Rich Peverly dropping the gloves with Marc-Andre Bergeron. This all started with players pushing and shoving, then Steve Downie shoving Peverly continuously into the net. So, at the start of the second period, Peverly and Marc-Andre Bergeron would be in the box for fighting, and Downie would be in the box for a game misconduct and roughing. That being said, the Bruins would have a powerplay at the start of the second period and a chance to make it 4-0.
Lightning Respond with Huge Second Period
The second period was underway, and Boston was on their first powerplay of the night. Nothing resulted from the man advantage, and Tampa successfully killed off the penalty. 1:52 after the first Bruins powerplay, the Bruins were getting another powerplay opportunity. Simon Gagne was going to the box for goaltender interference, and Boston had another chance to make it 4-0. The Bruins were not able to capitalize, and instead, just a minute later, after the powerplay ended, Tampa Bay got themselves on the scoreboard. Teddy Purcell deked around Adam McQuaid and buried a backhanded by Tim Thomas. It was still a two-goal lead for the Bruins.
Just 1:03 later, Tampa once again found the back of the net, and the Lightning were rolling. It was once again Teddy Purcell who scored, and the Lightning had all the momentum. 19 seconds later, Brad Marchand was whistled for interference, and the Lightning suddenly had a chance to make it 3-3. 1:22 earlier, it was 3-0 Boston; now it was just 3-2 Boston, and Tampa was on the powerplay. Boston killed off the penalty; however, 36 seconds after Tampa’s powerplay Sean Bergenheim scored the tying goal, and the Tampa crowd was electric. The Bruins had now allowed 3 unanswered goals in a 3:58 span. Tampa was rolling and appeared to have full control of this game now.
After the TV timeout, the Bruins responded with quick pressure on Mike Smith, but it was still tied at 3 apiece. With 2:35 remaining in the second, Horton was going to the box for roughing, and Steve Downie, who was on the receiving end of the hit, was going to the box for embellishment. 4-on-4 hockey quickly came and went along with the rest of the second period, and 40 minutes of hockey was completed. After Boston dominated the first period, Tampa Bay responded with a huge second period behind two goals from Teddy Purcell.
Lightning Pull Away/Win Game 4
The last 20 minutes of hockey were underway, and the game was tied at three apiece. A minute in, the Lightning almost scored the go-ahead goal after Lecavalier’s wraparound was stuffed by Thomas’s left pad, the period progressed. 6:56 into the third, the Lightning scored their fourth unanswered goal. Ryan Malone backhand passed it to Simon Gagne, and Gagne beat Thomas five-hole to pursue the Lightning ahead 4-3. The goal left Bruins fans watching at home, saying to themselves, “what the hell is happening?” Nonetheless, the Bruins had 13 minutes to overcome the Lightning’s momentum somehow and attempt to tie the game. The Bruins put two quick shots on Mike Smith off the faceoff, but Smith knocked them away, and the game continued.
Throughout the next eleven minutes, the Bruins desperately tried to put one behind Mike Smith, but Smith played tremendously in the net. 2:19 remained in game four, and Guy Boucher called a timeout to reassure his guys what was at stake. The timeout also allowed Claude Julien to discuss the strategy when he pulled Tim Thomas. 1:15 was now left, and Tim Thomas was heading to the bench for the extra man. 41 seconds later, Martin St. Louis buried the empty netter, and game four was shortly in the books.
After scoring three goals in the first period, the Bruins suffered a colossal collapse in the second period and allowed Tampa Bay to score three goals of their own in the second. Tampa would then score two in the third period and seal the victory, meaning the Lightning were able to score five unanswered goals. Anyway, both teams would get one day rest as the series would shift back to Boston for game five on May 23rd.