Dan Giardi scored 3:18 into sudden-death overtime to propel Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series. The Lightning take a commanding 3-1 lead back to Amalie Arena, where they could end the Bruins' season Sunday.
With their backs against the wall, having been dominated in each of the past two games, the Boston Bruins hoped injecting some fresh legs into the lineup would help jumpstart a team that has looked fatigued as of late. Rookie Ryan Donato, appearing in the second playoff game of his short NHL career, and veteran Brian Gionta, seeing his first action this post season, joined Tim Schaller, who was back in the lineup after sitting out Game 3. Riley Nash, Tommy Wingels and Danton Heinen were relegated to watch from the stands.
Despite a promising start, the B's quickly reverted back to some of the negatives that have plagued them this series. A Jake Debrusk defensive-zone turnover, and back-to-back penalties to Rick Nash and Zdeno Chara, led to goals by Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov to put the Lightning up 2-0 midway through the first.
Point intercepted Debrusk's failed clearing attempt in the neutral zone, split the defense of Chara and Charlie McAvoy and then beat Rask on a second attempt down low 4:36 into the opening frame. Kucherov blasted a one-timer past the Boston keeper from the right faceoff dot five minutes later as Chara was in the box for a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass.
The Bruins would answer with two straight power play goals to even the score.
David Pastrnak showed off his remarkable hand-eye coordination as he whacked a perfectly placed one timer out of the air past a stunned Andrei Vasilevskiy to put Boston on the board with 5:32 remaining in the first.
Then Patrice Bergeron scored 2:04 into the second on a perfect give and go. Bergeron skated down the right wall, fed Torey Krug behind the net and then received the return pass in time to bury it into the back of the cage.
With perhaps the save of the night, Rask completely robbed Steven Stamkos on a breakaway with a glove save just moments later to keep the scored knotted at two. It was the second breakaway Chara and McAvoy had allowed Friday.
The teams traded goals in the third to force overtime. Bergeron scored his second of the night, a short-handed goal with a backhanded redirect over Vasilevskiy's right shoulder on a long pass from Brad Marchand to put Boston up 3-2 before the Lightning answered with a Stamkos blast from the top of the right faceoff circle to even the score once again. The tying goal came with some controversy as McAvoy coughed the puck up after he appeared to get tripped while starting to skate the puck out of the zone.
The Bruins were forced to finish the game with five defensemen after Krug left the ice late in the third when he awkwardly slid into the boards.