Hockey season is over in Boston after the Bruins’ even-strength woes became too much to overcome against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals after a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, dispatching the Bruins in five games.
For as lethal as Boston’s power play was over the course of the series (5 for 11, or 45 percent) the Bruins didn’t score a goal in 5-on-5 play after Torey Krug’s tally at 15:58 of the third period way back in Game 2.
The inability to cash in at even strength denied Boston a chance at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013, but it wasn’t the only reason.
The Bruins actually scored the first goal this afternoon, a David Krejci one-timer from Charlie McAvoy at the left dot in the final minute of the first period.
The goal came after Boston couldn’t quite capitalize on 56 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but after Tampa Bay failed to clear the defensive zone, Andrei Vasilevskiy misjudged McAvoy’s intentions and gave up the upper-third of the goal as he slid back towards Krejci’s forehand.
Just over halfway through the second period, the Lightning tied the game on a Brayden Point shot underneath the right pad of Tuukka Rask. Point picked Kevan Miller’s pocket through the corner in Boston defensive end and was rewarded for his efforts seconds later through the slot.
JT Miller scored what would stand as the game-winner at 14:00 of the second period, just 29 seconds into a power play in which Patrice Bergeron was in the box for the Bruins.
Boston had one final power play to try and salvage its season late in the third after Ryan McDonough went off for a trip at 15:42, only to be denied at every angle by Vasilevskiy. He made 27 saves on 28 shots faced for the game, including 14 stops in the third period.
When the power play expired, the Bruins pulled Rask for an extra attacker shortly thereafter. Despite an initial flurry, Vasilevskiy was able to hang on to a puck and force a defensive zone draw.
Point came up with the win directly back to Anton Stralman, who found a lane up the middle from nearly 200 feet away and fired the puck into the empty net with 1:31 left in regulation to ice it for Tampa.
Rask made 19 saves on 21 shots faced for Boston.