The Tampa Bay Lightning might be kicking themselves for not being more aggressive to build their lead after scoring the first goal of the game on Monday night. Late in the game, the Boston Bruins put up a wall around Tim Thomas that the Lightning could not break through, and an empty-net goal sealed a 3-1 win for Boston that has Tampa Bay on the edge of playoff extinction.
In the third period, the Lightning didn’t have that many chances, and their best opportunity to tie the game was robbed by Thomas. Steve Downie was in the right spot next to the net when a shot careened off the end boards and on to his stick. But Thomas dove back towards the far post and managed to get the blade of his stick in the way of what looked like a sure goal, deflecting it off the goal post and wide. It was kind of a lucky save, but hard work has a way of creating its own luck, and the Lightning didn’t do nearly enough of that down the stretch. The Downie chance was the last quality scoring opportunity they got, and it came with a little over 10 minutes to play. Even with Mike Smith pulled, Tampa Bay couldn’t get set up properly in the Bruins zone in a last-ditch attempt to even the score.
Thomas made 33 saves overall, while Mike Smith acquitted himself nicely, stopping 17 of 19 shots. Simon Gagne scored the only Lightning goal a minute into the game. Brad Marchand had the game-winner for Boston late in the second period, while Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley (into an empty net) had the other Bruins goals.
Game 6 will be Wednesday night back in Tampa. The Bruins will be looking to book their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1990, while the Lightning will attempt to force a deciding Game 7 back in Boston.