The Tampa Bay Lightning have been raptured. How else to explain the team that is wearing their uniforms and trailing the Boston Bruins 3-0 after only one period of a critical Game 4 in the Eastern Conference Finals? OK, it’s probably still the same team, but their defensemen made some crucial mistakes that have them facing a steep hill to climb if they want to tie the series.
After a fairly even first half to the period, the Bruins got on the board on a play eerily similar to the one that Teddy Purcell made to score a goal in Game 1. Brett Clark and Victor Hedman both mishandled a puck behind their own net, and Patrice Bergeron swooped in to pick it up and slip one past Dwayne Roloson at 11:47.
Play settled back down again (despite the score, the Lightning did outshoot Boston 10-9 in the first period) until another mistake by the defense helped the Bruins score again. Marc-Andre Bergeron came up almost to the center red line to try and keep a puck from getting deep, but he missed. When Michael Ryder got around him along the boards, it created a 2-on-1 with him and Chris Kelly. Ryder moved in on the left side, and tried to pass around Mike Lundin to Kelly in the slot. Lundin got his stick on it, but with Roloson moving towards the middle to stop the expected shot, the puck deflected into the vacated area and over the goal line. That gave Boston a 2-0 lead at 16:34.
It looked like Tampa Bay might have a chance to get back in the game on a power play when Dennis Seidenberg was sent off for holding the stick. Instead, the Bruins led 3-0 just seven seconds later on a shot that Roloson should have easily stopped. Steven Stamkos (who has had his share of issues on the point this season) and Eric Brewer both made bad passes at the top of the zone, and Bergeron intercepted and headed up the ice. Bergeron took a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that somehow beat Roloson at 17:56 for a short-handed goal.
But wait, there’s more! After a scrum that completed the first period, the Lightning will be short-handed to begin the second period.