After a complete collapse in Game 4, allowing five unanswered goals after leading 3-0, the Boston Bruins needed to refocus their game and that’s exactly what they did, securing a 3-1 victory over the Tamps Bay Lighting in Game 5.
Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins and Tim Thomas made 33 saves.
Boston now leads the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Tampa on Wednesday.
The big question coming into Monday night’s game was who Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher would start between the posts as well as concerns over Bruins netminder and Vezina finalist Thomas’ recent lacklustre performances.
And what a goaltending show it was.
Would it be veteran Dwayne Roloson, who during Game 4 looked lost on the ice and has been far from unbeatable in his last three games, or backup Mike Smith, who shined in net during his two relief performances and stopped all 21 shots he faced?
Smith got the nod and despite facing just 19 shots, he was absolutely solid between the pipes, keeping his team in the game with several big saves.
However, as the game progressed, the story quickly became all about Thomas, who made several key saves, keeping the Tampa forwards at bay and finally looked like the potential Vezina winner Boston fans has seen during the regular season.
Simon Gagne, who broke the hearts of the Bruins with the game-winning goal in Game 4, took just over a minute to score on Thomas, giving the Lightning the early lead they were looking for.
Heading into the second period, the Bruins found themselves needing more of that bounce they have been searching for.
They found inspiration in Horton, who had just stepped out of the penalty box and fired a shot past Smith to even the score at one.
The Bruins took the lead for the first time at 15:56 in the second period after Marchand hammered home a pass from Patrice Bergeron.
Rich Peverley chased down his own rebound to score on an empty Tampa Bay net with just 13 seconds left in the game to secure the Boston win.
By all rights we should’ve lost this game. We were out played from start to finish. Take advantage of this and finish this series off in Tampa. Go Bruins!!!