BOSTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning have made the necessary adjustments after an embarrassing Game 1 loss. As a result, they now lead their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Boston Bruins 2-1.
The Lightning have outscored the Bruins 8-3 over the last two contests, including a convincing 4-1 win at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
Here are a few takeaways from Game 3.
The Lightning are getting secondary scoring and the Bruins are not.
The Lightning?s top line, which includes two of the best offensive players in the NHL in captain Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, has scored only one goal through three games in this series, an empty-netter by Stamkos at the end of Game 3. The Bruins have done a nice job shutting down this highly skilled line. The problem for Boston is Tampa Bay?s secondary scorers have stepped up and the Bruins? depth has not shown.
In Game 2, Brayden Point delivered a four-point performance in a Lightning victory. In Game 3 it was Ondrej Palat stepping up with two goals in the first four minutes en route to another Tampa Bay win.
The Bruins are not receiving enough scoring outside of the first line. In fact, only one of Boston’s even-strength goals in this series was scored by a forward not on the top line (Rick Nash in Game 1).
The B’s two goals in Game 2 were scored by defensemen and their only tally in Game 3 was a power-play strike by Bergeron. Boston?s third and fourth lines have scored no goals in the series, and these six players combined for just four shots on net in Game 3. The second line also largely has been ineffective against the Lightning.
The Bruins had 11 double-digit goal scorers in the regular season. They have the depth needed to win games when the top two lines aren?t firing on all cylinders. It’s just a matter of bearing down and burying your scoring chances.
Bruins’ breakouts must be better.
The Bruins are spending way too much time in their own zone, and it?s because their breakouts haven?t been well-executed. The Lightning?s forecheck has been very aggressive and it?s putting a ton of pressure on the B?s defensemen by taking away their time and space with the puck.
“Not good enough,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team’s breakouts. “And again, part of that, I think, is not having the urgency to get moving up ice. (The Lightning) reload well, and they?re able to influence it pretty well that way, so we just have to execute better within the abilities of the player and support it better and not turn it over so we?re having to break it out a second time after we do it the first time successfully.
” … When I see a shot clock that?s imbalanced, it usually means, what happened in the special teams? I mean, we only had 29 seconds of power-play time, so we?re not going to generate as much as them. … So, then I?ll look at the management of the puck starting from the breakout. If you?re breaking out well, you?re out of your end, probably not giving up a lot of shots. So, to me, it wasn?t good enough.”
If the Bruins can make quicker, more accurate passes out of the defensive zone, the transition through the neutral zone will be faster and they?ll create quality scoring chances off the rush.
Bruins are getting outshot by a wide margin.
The Bruins were outshot 37-29 in Game 3 even though they were trailing for almost the entire night. The Lightning didn?t let up after taking an early lead.
Tampa Bay outshot Boston 36-24 in the series opener and 30-21 in Game 2. The Bruins were one of the best puck-possession teams in the league during the regular season, but that has not been the case in this series.
Boston can?t afford to take so many penalties.
The Lightning had the league?s third-best power play during the regular season at 23.9 percent. Their success wasn?t surprising when you consider Tampa Bay?s PP units include ultra-talented offensive players such as Stamkos, Kucherov, Palat, Point, Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman.
The Bruins have been shorthanded 12 times in this series, and the Lightning have scored a power-play goal in all three games. The Bruins have to be more disciplined and stay out of penalty box to have a good chance of winning this series.