Game 1 was a frustrating performance for the Tampa Bay Lightning, especially their defensive trio of forwards in Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, which got the worse end of a matchup with the Boston Bruins’ top line, ending the night a combined -12.
In Game 2, it was that line doing the frustrating. Point led the way, assisting on the first three Lightning goals of the night before adding an empty-netter. Palat added a goal and an assist and Johnson contributed a tally of his own, lifting the Lightning to a 4-2 win on Monday.
“I feel good,” Point said. “Last game I went minus-five and tonight I get four points. You can’t get too high or too low.”
As part of their bounce-back effort, Point & Co. played a big role in quelling the Bruins’ offense, which was outshot 9-0 through the first 14:00 minutes of the first period, and was held without a shot on goal for the final 9:14 of the second. When shots did get through, Andrei Vasilevskiy was there to hold down the fort, ceding only two of the 20 shots he saw to Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper put to rest any notion that he had considered moving the trio to a different assignment than the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak trio that posted 11 points in the series opener.
“We had faith in them,” he said. “If there was any talk of switching them off, those three would have walked right into my office and said ‘What are you doing?’”
While the Bruins had trouble generating offense at times, goalie Tuukka Rask was plenty busy keeping his teammates in the mix, stopping 27 shots on the night.
Boston did come close to tying the score at three late in the third period, as Marchand raced in on a breakaway off a center ice face-off with just under three minutes remaining, only to be slashed by defenseman Anton Stralman. The non-call was just one in a game full of questionable officiating and drew the ire of Boston coach Bruce Cassidy.
“He slashed him right on the hands,” Cassidy said. “I just think its unacceptable to miss that call, it’s a hit on the hands. It’s one thing if it’s a judgment call on the stick, on the hands, it’s automatic. I think that should be called. In my estimation, I disagree with the no-call.”
Cassidy and the Bruins will have a day to figure out how to turn things around ahead of Game 3 in Boston on Wednesday.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4, SHARKS 3 (OT)
William Karlsson came up clutch for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The man known as ‘Wild Bill’ raced up the ice to snipe the game-winner over San Jose Sharks’ goalie Martin Jones at 8:17 of overtime, giving the Knights a 2-1 series lead. The score marked the second winner of the postseason for the 40-goal scorer, who also added an assist on Reilly Smith’s second-period goal, part of a three-goal blitz by Vegas in a 4:46 span. Jonathan Marchessault (1G, 2A) and Colin Miller also scored for the Golden Knights, who recovered from a double-OT loss in Game 2.
San Jose rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period, getting goals from Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl that sent Game 3 into overtime.
Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all three shots he saw in the extra frame, giving him 39 on the night as he outdueled Jones (30 saves).
The teams meet again for Game 4 on Wednesday.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Blink and you might miss it: William Karlsson's touch-pass to Reilly Smith was a thing of beauty—just ask Brent Burns.
1. Brayden Point, TBL — The Lightning forward needed a rebound game, and boy, did he have one. Not only did Point help shut down the Bruins' offense, he chipped in four points.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK — Fleury withstood a barrage of San Jose shots in Game 23, making 39 saves—many of then spectacular—to help Vegas to a 2-1 series lead.
3. Jonathan Marchessault, VGK — He went top-shelf on a one-timer from his knee and then added an assist on a spinning no-look pass as part of the Golden Knights' second-period blitz, and then assisted on William Karlsson's OT winner.
Despite a Game 2 loss filled with controversy, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t planning to try and unpack the calls that didn’t go their way. "It's the playoffs. You can't dwell on any games," defenseman Justin Schultz said. "You have to move on. We have a new opportunity to go in front of our home fans and get a win. We're looking forward to it." With the series tied, the Pens have a chance to take control of things at home, but the Capitals are well aware of what their foe is capable of. Washington picked up the physical play in Game 2 and will need to continue doling out the hits. Having goalie Braden Holtby back on top of his game doesn’t hurt, either.
The Predators find themselves in Winnipeg all knotted up after Kevin Fiala’s Game 2 heroics. The Swiss forward scored in double overtime to lift Nashville to a thrilling win over the Jets that ensures a trip back home—and heading back to Bridgestone Arena for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead would certainly be a prime spot. First, though, the Predators must get through Game 3 on Tuesday. “We got the split, now we'll go up there and try to take care of business,” Nashville forward Nick Bonino said on Monday. It won’t be easy, especially with Mark Scheifele scoring seemingly at will at this point: Winnipeg's forward has nine points and three multi-goal games in his last four to lead a powerful young offense.