July 25, 2021

3 Keys: Lightning vs. Bruins, Game 3 of Eastern Second Round

Jaroslav Halak will start for the third time in four days for the Boston Bruins against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Wednesday.

The goalie made 36 saves for Boston in a 4-3 overtime loss Tuesday in Game 2. Halak had won his previous four starts with a 1.75 goals-against average and .936 save percentage after goalie Tuukka Rask opted out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Aug. 15.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not say whether Andrei Vasilevskiy or Curtis McElhinney would start.

Vasilevskiy made 22 saves in Game 2 and 28 saves in Game 1, which Tampa Bay lost 3-2 on Sunday. He is 7-3-0 with a 2.15 GAA and .921 save percentage in 10 postseason games.

McElhinney last started March 8, when he made 24 saves in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Lightning forward Ondrej Palat scored at 4:40 of overtime in Game 2. Tampa Bay is 3-0 in overtime during this postseason.

Teams that win Game 3 after a Stanley Cup Playoffs series is tied 1-1 are 218-107 (67 percent) winning a best-of-7 series, including 3-1 this postseason.

Here are 3 keys for Game 3:


1. Helping the goalies
After losing Game 2, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Halak likely expended a lot of energy fighting for pucks. That’s mostly because the Lightning did a good job of crowding the net front, making it difficult for Halak to find shots through the traffic.

Boston wants to keep the area around its crease clear Wednesday.

Tampa Bay would look to do the same in the second game of a back-to-back. The Lightning mostly were successful Tuesday, but could find it challenging to replicate with defenseman Ryan McDonagh unfit to play a second straight game.

“Losing [McDonagh] is tough,” Cooper said. “That’s some big minutes. A strong defender and a big-time player in this League.”


2. Digging deep
The Lightning and Bruins already were trying to find ways to stay fresh entering the first game of the back-to-back. That was before Game 2 went into overtime, which could make it even more difficult to stay energized Wednesday.

That Game 2 ended relatively early in overtime could help, Cassidy said. But in a tight series, another close game could be decided by which team is able to recover quicker.

“Minutes-wise we were pretty good, I thought,” Cassidy said. “Balanced going into the overtime. … No injuries. So we didn’t really have to double shift anybody. So that part of our recovery should be OK.”


3. Lightning carrying momentum
Since being outshot 15-10 in the first period of Game 1, Tampa Bay has outshot Boston 67-40. The Lightning mostly have controlled the past six periods, including overtime Tuesday. There were stretches of Game 2 where Boston was trapped in its zone, but was able to keep it close with two goals from forward Brad Marchand, who has six goals in his past six games.

Tampa Bay probably wouldn’t mind a repeat performance Wednesday, but isn’t getting ahead of itself.

“We have to pump the brakes a little bit too,” Cooper said. “There’s a long way to go.”


Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Blake Coleman

Pat Maroon — Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman — Kevin Shattenkirk

Mikhail Sergachev — Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn — Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Mathieu Joseph, Jan Rutta, Alexander Volkov, Scott Wedgewood, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Verhaeghe

Unfit to play: Steven Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh


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