Tied at two games apiece, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins meet up for pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night. Faceoff is a little after 8:00pm Eastern time from Boston's TD Garden, with national TV coverage on Versus.
Tampa Bay rallied from a 3-0 deficit in Saturday's Game 4 with five unanswered goals, including two from Teddy Purcell, Sean Bergenheim's playoffs-leading ninth goal, and the eventual game-winner from Simon Gagne. It was the biggest comeback in Lightning playoff history. But lost in all the offense was the play of backup goalie Mike Smith, who entered the game at the start of the second period and stopped all 20 Boston shots he faced. Smith also played the third period of Game 2 and didn't allow a goal, leaving some to wonder who will be in the net for Game 5 tonight. Lightning coach Guy Boucher isn't coming right out and saying so, but unless you have newspapers to sell with a controversy, it sounds like it's going to be Dwayne Roloson:
"We've got a goaltender (Roloson) that has taken us here. He's played really well, and he's getting prepared for (tonight). We've got a goaltender (Smith) that came in relief and he's done really well. So every time we ask him to come in, he's played well. And we've got a goaltender that has taken us here that knows how to win and knows how to bounce back. So don't feel there's a situation there."
There's no controversy in the Boston net, even though Tim Thomas has given up 13 goals in the series (and that includes a shutout in Game 3). In fact, Thomas is so confident that he's told the Boston Herald that the Bruins will win this series:
"Yeah," Thomas said last evening, "we’re going to win."
"I mean, I don’t know how it’s going to be at any one time in any one game," Thomas said. "What’s important is that we come back in Game 5 (tomorrow) and win the game, however we do it.
"Hopefully, we do it playing the type of game that we like to play — or, if things don’t work exactly that way, that we find a way to win. One way or another."
One way or another, one team or another will be within one win of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals after tonight's game.
- Steve Downie traveled with the Lightning to Boston, but his availability for tonight's game is still in doubt.
- Looking for a harbinger tonight? The team that has won the faceoff battle has won all four games in the series. On Saturday, the Lightning held a 39-26 edge in the faceoff circle, including 14 of 21 won by captain Vincent Lecavalier.
- After coming into this series leading the four remaining playoff teams in power play success at over 26%, the Lightning are only 2-for-14 (14.3%) with the man advantage in this series.