(Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff

Game seven is here, with the winner moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the Vancouver Canucks. The Bruins had an opportunity to close out the series in game six, but the Lightning won 5-3 and forced a game seven back at T.D Garden. Both teams’ lineups stayed the same, and Roloson and Thomas would get the start in net. For the first time since 1990, the Bruins could advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Game seven is here folks, buckle up.  

1st Period Action

The puck was dropped, and the Garden was deafening. Not a single seat was empty in the sold-out crowd. At the 3:22 mark, Tim Thomas had to make three saves in 20 seconds, and the first period continued. At the halfway mark, it’s 0-0, but both teams have had their chances. 13:34 into the first period, Michael Ryder, playing with energy, feeds Seguin in the left slot, but Roloson kicks it away. One of the Bruins’ best chances among their 10 shots on net so far, and the period progressed. 

Just two minutes later, Peverley sends Lucic in all alone, but he shoots it into Roloson’s pads, trying to go five-hole on the forehand. A golden opportunity gets away. With 2:12 remaining in the period, Nathan Horton skated to the Boston bench and headed to the dressing room. Earlier in the period, Nathan Horton was hit by Blair Jones and struggled to get to his feet, not a pleasant sight for Bruins fans. The first period quickly came to a close, and after one, it was 0-0 with no penalties called. The refs were letting the boys play.  

Scoreless heading into the 3rd

At the start of the second period, Nathan Horton returned to the bench for the Bruins, so that was a pleasant sight. 1:54 into the second, Horton returned to the ice, which was an even better sight. At the 4:17 mark of the second, the Bruins have doubled Tampa’s shot totals 18-9. 47 seconds later, a scary moment occurred and a perfect example of why players wear face shields. Stamkos took a Boychuk rocket off the shield after it deflected off Martin St. Louis’s stick. He fell to the ice, then immediately popped up and skated to the dressing room. Seconds before the halfway mark, Tim Thomas made arguably the best save of the game. He stuffed Simon Gagne after a rebound bounced out to him in the high slot. A little after the halfway mark Steven Stamkos returned to the Lightning bench; that’s a hockey player for ya. 

The Bruins continued a relentless attack on Roloson throughout the period, and it just feels like a Bruins goal is coming. At the 14:50 mark, the camera peers over to Stamkos, who is now wearing a full-face shield, and it’s obvious that Stamkos took the puck off the nose. The Bruins continue to pepper Rolson with shots, as at the 17:30 mark, Roloson now has 28 saves. Coming to the end of the period, Stamkos has an opportunity to score, but Kaberle lifts Stamkos’s stick, and the period was over. Two periods down, no goals, no penalties, and numerous good scoring opportunities, particularly for the Bruins, who have fired 29 shots on Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson without anything to show for it. 

Horton Scores the Game Winner

The third period was underway, and it’s more of the same intense hockey. Peverly and Marchand both stopped on the doorstep by Roloson. Seconds after the halfway mark, Lucic fires a shot right off the faceoff, but Roloson saves it. Finally, with 7:33 left in the game, Nathan Horton broke the scoreless tie. A beautiful feed by David Krejci found Horton cutting to the net. Horton just had to put a stick on it and loft it into the webbing. The Bruins had finally cracked Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1, and the Garden was deafening. The Garden was full of cheers and yellow towels waving. 

Three minutes later, a two-on-one for Marchand and Ryder comes up empty, and Ryder’s shot runs smack into the left pad of Dwyane Roloson. Good for the Bruins to keep attacking rather than sit back and wait for the Lightning to try and equalize. As the final 90 seconds of game seven was approaching, the Lightning desperately tried to get Roloson to the bench. For the next 30 seconds, the Lightning tried to get Roloson off the ice, but Roloson was forced to stay in the net with an offside call and a neutral zone faceoff. It’s so loud at ice level you can’t hear the whistles, and you have to go by hand signals. With 30 seconds remaining, the Lightning were finally able to pull Roloson. The final seconds ticked off, and the Bruins had won Game 7! For the first time since 1990, the Boston Bruins were going to the Stanley Cup Final!  

What a game. No penalties, one goal, and lots of action in this one. Not only were they celebrating on the ice at TD Garden, but they’re also celebrating on Canal Street and in Brighton, Charlestown, and South Boston. The handshake line took place, and the Bruins fans/players could finally celebrate. Bill Daley presented the Prince of Wales trophy to Zdeno Chara and his fellow Bruins teammates, and more cheers rained down in the Garden. The next roadblock in the way for the Bruins was the Vancouver Canucks. Game one was set to take place on June 1st at the Rogers Arena.