Two Eastern Conference powerhouses get together for Game 2 of their semifinal series tonight in Toronto. The Boston Bruins held on for a victory in Game 1 and look to make it a two-game cushion, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are aiming for a rebound and a series tie.
Here is a look at tonight’s Bruins-Lightning matchup and a Game 1 recap and a free pick. Tampa Bay is currently a slight favorite at -115 to even up the series.
After getting out to a 3-0 lead, the Bruins held off a late Lightning run to win Game 1 by a score of 3-2. Boston was led by a dominant effort from their top scorers, namely RW David Pastrnak and LW Brad Marchand.
Following a goal from C Charlie Coyle to put Boston on the board in the first period, Pastrnak doubled the lead in the second period on the power play, just his second goal of the postseason. Marchand then extended the Bruins lead within the first 90 seconds of period three.
Tampa Bay did fight back, outshooting Boston by 11 in the second period. They finally beat Jaroslav Halak in the third period with a pair of goals from D Victor Hedman. Halak was still largely brilliant, allowing just the two goals on 37 shots, while Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves on 31 shots.
Keys to Victory
Boston will win if their power play continues to dominate. A theme of the Bruins’ postseason has been a power play that continues to take advantage of opportunities.
After going 1-for-3 on Sunday, that pushes their postseason total to 6-for-22. With lethal goal-scorers like Pastrnak and Marchand, plus others like Coyle to beef up their secondary scoring, Boston’s power play is good enough to go up against any team.
Tampa Bay will win if they keep the game five-on-five. Even though they fell short in the first game of this series, the Lightning were fairly even with the Bruins throughout all three periods, actually leading in expected goals on five-on-five play.
The only place where Tampa Bay has continued to thoroughly struggle is on the power play, where they are 0-for-13 this postseason. Hedman, C Brayden Point, and RW Nikita Kucherov are a few of the stars who will need to show out at even strength, where the Lightning have been their best.
There should be no surprises in net tonight for either team. Halak has been solid since replacing the All-Star Tuukka Rask, going 4-1 with a 2.23 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Meanwhile, it’ll be Vasilevskiy for the Lightning, who has gone 6-3 with a 2.08 GAA and .925 save percentage.
This series has seven games written all over it. So tonight, I’m going with the Lightning to even up the series. Tampa Bay is the slightly better team at even strength and has the better goaltender in net.
Furthermore, the Bolts showed during the regular season that they know how to play the Bruins, winning three of four and an additional game against them during round-robin play. I’m riding with Tampa Bay to bounce back in a big way and win Game 2.
Pick: Lightning -115