EditorsNote: update 2: adds quotes from Cooper and Cassidy
Ondrej Palat scored two goals to help the visiting Lightning beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 Wednesday night, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 advantage in an Eastern Conference second-round playoff series.
Palat has four goals in the playoffs, one behind team leader Nikita Kucherov. The two-goal postseason game was the second of Palat’s career.
Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli scored his first playoff goal and Steven Stamkos collected his second, into an empty net in the last minute. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves as the Lightning earned their second straight win, having beaten the Bruins 4-2 Monday to even the best-of-seven series.
Patrice Bergeron scored his fourth goal of the playoffs and Tuukka Rask had 33 saves for Boston. The Bruins have scored only three times after cruising to a 6-2 victory in the series opener.
Game 4 is Friday in Boston.
It was Tampa Bay’s second playoff win in Boston and its first since May 14, 2011, when the Lightning beat the Bruins 5-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins won that series in seven games en route to their sixth Stanley Cup title.
The Lightning improved to 6-0 this postseason when leading after two periods.
Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde had an assist one day after his wife gave birth to a girl. Gourde, who scored his second goal of the playoffs in Game 2, was bedside with his wife for the birth and rejoined the team in Boston.
Palat struck twice in the game’s first 3:19, and Tampa Bay led 3-1 after one period.
Tyler Johnson scooped up Matt Grzelcyk’s giveaway and fed it to Palat, who flicked the puck past Rask just 1:47 into the contest.
Palat soon doubled the lead when he swooped in front of the net and deflected Victor Hedman’s blue-line shot past Rask.
Asked if he could explain what Palat means to the Lightning, coach Jon Cooper said, “No. I can’t. He’s a beast. You know those guys that kind of go under the radar and don’t get the credit they deserve but they don’t seek it and they don’t care? That’s Ondrej Palat.”
After Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman went to the box for tripping, Bergeron snuck a puck through Vasilevskiy’s five hole off a rebound with 5:48 to go in the first.
Cirelli recaptured the momentum for the Lightning when he put in his own rebound with 3:17 left before the first intermission, making it 3-1.
“We didn’t start the way we needed to at all,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ve been a team, I think we’ve given up the first goal and won maybe 18 games this year. So this is nothing new. You’ve gotta play through that. ...
“We need to defend better, and part of that is intensity in my estimation. Urgency, pick your word. We didn’t have it. You’ve got to manage the puck first, and then once you don’t have it anymore, you have to have a certain level of structure and urgency to get it back. And we didn’t.”
Stamkos scored with 41.2 seconds left in the third period.
—Field Level Media