Home > Boston Bruins > Bruins win game 5 behind stellar Thomas, look to close out series in Tampa

Bruins win game 5 behind stellar Thomas, look to close out series in Tampa

The Bruins have regained control of the Eastern Conference Finals, now up 3 games to 2. This following their 3-1 win in game 5 at the TD Garden. The Bruins didn’t play a great game at all. The team as a whole was terrible in the 1st period. The defense stepped up in the 2nd and 3rd period, and the offense was opportunistic. Mike Smith was in net for the Lightning, after he had stopped all 21 shots in game 4. I was very surprised, since Roloson is part of the reason they made it into the Eastern Conference Finals. Smith has looked good in his limited time in the postseason, but he had never started a game until last night. So how did the Bruins pull this one off?

Tim Thomas celebrates game 5 win

Tim Thomas provides another stellar performance, leading the Bruins to a 3-1 win in game 5

1st Period

The game is underway, and Marchand took a huge hit from Mattiaus Ohlund at center ice. Marchand went right back after him at the boards, but nothing illegal happening. The Bruins had possession in the attacking zone, when Kreci lost control of the puck after a big hit into the boards. Ference pinched in to stop the puck, but slipped down to the ice. Stamkos picked up the puck, and him and Gange had a 2-on-1 up ice now. Stamkos centered a pass from the far circle for Gange, who got a shot off through the legs of Johnny Boychuck, and into the net. Tampa had another quick lead, up 1-0 at 1:09 in the game. Tampa was 8-0 when scoring first, until the Bruins beat them in game 2 when they scored first. So this will be a tough game for the Bruins to come back in. Boston calmed the game down a bit, but looked very weak in the neutral zone. Tampa was much more physical early in the game. Boston was fighting for the puck in the attacking zone, when Lecavalier hooked down Bergeron for a penalty at 5:13. The powerplay now had a very important chance to get right back in this game. The powerplay was awful, and it ended early. Seguin would be called for tripping at . It was a dive, but also an unnecessary penalty taken by Seguin, as he smacked the skates of well after the puck was gone.  So after 38 seconds of 4-on-4, the Lightning went on the powerplay. The penalty kill for Boston was great, easily killing off the remainder of the Seguin penalty. Midway through the game, the Bruins were being outshot 6-2. Boston looked like they were going to have a good scoring chance, as Marchand tried to get a pass across ice in the attacking zone. The pass was picked off, and chipped out by Tampa. Marchand skated lazily to the puck, while Stamkos came flying down the ice after the puck. Stamkos picked the puck up, deked, and then was hammered by Ference to deny his scoring chance. He went tumbling into the net, and the play was whistled dead. Ference would receive a minor for cross-checking, and Tampa was back on the powerplay at 12:17. Tampa had control of the puck for the entire penalty, getting great chances on Thomas. Thomas was solid in net, and his defense did a good job keeping pucks away from him. Finally, with 12 seconds left in the penalty, the Bruins cleared the puck. The penalty ended, and the game was still 1-0. The Bruins had a 3-on-2 up ice with the 1st line, and Horton finally got ar Bruin shot off blocked by Smith. That was just their 3rd shot in over 15 minutes of play. The 1st line of Boston started to get them some momentum back, but it was all Lightning this period. As the Lighting were coming up ice, Nathan Horton would be called for interference at 19:09. The period ended without a goal by the Lightning, so they would have 1:09 remaining on the penalty to start the 2nd. Tampa Bay dominated the 1st period of play, getting 14 shots on net, while the Bruins only had 4. It was a slow start by the Bruins, and the will have to play much better in the 2nd and 3rd to get themselves back in this game.

2nd Period

The period started with a shortened powerplay for the Lightning. A good pk by Boston though denied any good scoring chances by Tampa. So back to 5-on-5 they went. Tampa had a great chance  after the penalty though, when Malone found Downie in the far slot for a one-time. Thomas made a great move though to stop the puck. During the next shift by the 1st line, Nathan Horton would again be called again for interference at 2:07. The Boston pk was good again, denying the Lightning any good scoring chances. The penalty ended with the game still 1-0. After the penalty ended, Boston would force a face-off in the Lightning zone. Kreci won the face-off back, and the puck was sent down the sideboards. Lucic dug the puck out, and made a terrific backhand pass to Horton in the near circle. He got a rocket of a one-timer off, and put the puck in the back of the net. Boston had tied the game 1-1 at 4:24. That was the first goal given up by Mike Smith in this series. Both teams now had the offenses rolling, and were trading chances back and forth. Down in the Boston zone, Ryan Malone would be called for interference at 6:42. But Marchand would receive a matching minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. They skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes now. Early into the 4-on-4, Tampa would be called for hooking at 7:05. Peverley was skating into the slot, and towards the far post. He was hooked by Ohlund, which denied him a chance to shot. Boston had a 4-on-3 for 1:36. Another huge powerplay for the Bruins, and one they need to score on. The 4-on-3 ended without a goal, and it became a 5-on-4 for 24 seconds. Still nothing for the Bruins, and the game remained tied at 1. Seguin almost had a chance, as a pass went just past his reach. Smith came out to play the puck, and knocked it out of Seguin’s reach. Later in the shift, Seguin flattened Stamkos in front of the net. The kid was playing with a hop in his step, and the Bruins responded with some aggressive play. Boston had the puck in the attacking zone, and Chara went behind the net to get the puck. He was hooked down by Brewer, and Boston was yet again on the powerplay at 11:40. The powerplay was stifled yet again, and that makes them 0-3 on the night. The tempo had slowed down, as we were now under 5 minutes to play. Chara came up with a takeaway in the neutral zone. He sent the puck in deep, and chased after it. Marchand grabbed the puck on the far boards, and passed up to Chara. He shuffled a pass to the far circle to Bergeron. Bergeron sent a slap pass across ice to the near slot for Marchand. He tipped the puck in off the pass, and Boston had taken the lead 2-1 at 15:56. The Lighting were playing with desperation now, just attacking Thomas relentlessly. Tampa was stacking the crease with bodies, but Thomas was solid in net to deny any scoring chances. The period would come to a close, with the Bruins surprisingly up 2-1. Boston played much better defensively, allowing just 9 shots on net by Tampa to Boston’s 8. The Bruins now just need to hold onto this game, and they would take a 3-2 series lead.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started with a good shift from the Bergeron line. But the ever quick Lightning came back with a chance off the rush. Blaire Jones received a pass in the near slot behind the Bruins defenders, and he deked to the forehand and got a shot off. The puck bounced off Thomas’s left shoulder, and hit the far post to stay out. Jones had raised his hands up as he had thought he scored, but on they played. Boston got the skates moving off a big check at the near boards by Marchand on Lecavalier. Marchand picked up the puck, and Boston had a 4-on-2 now up ice. Marchand passed from the near circle to Bergeron in the slot, and he passed to Chara at the far slot. Chara held the puck, and went around the net to try to get a scoring chance. Tampa was able to regroup though, and denied the Bruins a scoring chance. Tampa was out shooting the Bruins 7-0, 7 minutes into the 3rd period. Finally Kaberle got a shot off just past the 8 minute mark. He hit the mask of Smith, and the puck stayed out. Boston had finally enter the shot column. Tampa brought the puck up ice, and crowded the Boston net with bodies. Brewer took a shot intentionally wide to create an open chance at the near post. Steve Downie went in for the puck, caught it off the rebound from the end boards, and had a wide open net to shoot at now. Thomas though made a dive from the top of his crease to the near post, and with the toe of his paddle, stopped the puck from going in. That was the best save of the season, and possibly the most important save in the Bruins 2010-2011 season. Boston now had numbers up ice, and Chara had the puck skating into the slot. He hid the puck with his stick, and went for a backhand shot under the bar. But Smith made a fantastic glove save of his own. Back-to-back amazing saves by each goaltender kept the game 2-1 midway through the 3rd. The 1st line of Boston followed that up with more pressure, and Kreci had a great chance in the near circle. Smith made the save though, and he would cover up the puck. Tampa won the ensuing face-off back, and brought the puck up ice. Tampa dumped the puck in, and it was picked up by Boychuck behind the net. Boychuck passed up the far boards, and Downie came in from the near side. He absolutely blindsided Boychuck, sending his head into the boards as a result of whiplash. Boychuck immediately went to the dressing room, holding his head. Downie would be called for boarding, but only received a 2 minute minor at 10:54. That was complete bush league, and hopefully the league takes a look at this. The Bruins had control of the puck for most of the powerplay, but were unable to get any pucks in the back of then net. Chara finally was placed in front of the Lightning net, and the Bruins had a couple of close tip-in opportunities. They looked much better, even if they didn’t score. Hopefully Julien realizes that works, and goes to it again next powerplay. Tampa came back with tremendous pressure of their own. Thomas almost made another huge mistake behind the Boston net, similar to the 1st goal he allowed in game 4. He stopped the puck in the trapezoid, with a Bruin and Lightning player coming from each side. He looked confused on what to do, so he sent it to the closest Bruin to him. He scurried back to the net, as a Lightning player picked off the pass. Ference tripped Steve Downie behind him, as the Lightning had a quick chance in the slot. Thomas stuffed the puck, and grabbed it with his glove. Boston brought the puck back up ice, and almost scored a funny goal. A shot from the near circle hit the top of Smith’s glove, and then the top of the net. Then Horton dumped the puck into the Lightning zone as the Bruins went for a change. Smith went behind the net to play the puck, but it caromed off the endboards and went right through the crease. Another close call for Tampa, very lucky that the Bruins were making a change. Just after the 2 minute mark, Claude Julien called his time-out to talk last second strategy with his team. As Tampa was coming up ice, the puck bounced off the line judges skate. Tampa would be called for offsides, and Guy Boucher decided to take his timeout now, 18:51 into the game. Lecavalier won the puck back, but it was knocked away by Recchi. The Bruins plugged up the neutral zone, denying any clear path for the Lightning to breakout, and keeping Smith in the Tampa net. Finally the Lighting were able to settle the puck in their own zone, and came up ice as they emptied the net at the 19:15 mark. The Lightning entered the zone, but Kelly knocked down a pass at the point. It was gloved down by Peverley, who skated into the neutral zone. Peverly tried to get a shot off from center ice, but it was blocked down by Marc-Andre Bergeron. Peverley picked the puck right back up though, skated into the slot, and easily put the puck in the net for the empty net goal. Boston was up 3-1 at the 19:47 mark. The game was all but over, but Tampa kept the goalie pulled. The Lightning sent the puck in deep, and McQuaid pinned the puck against the boards. He bled the clock down, and the game would come to a close. A huge scrum ensued after the buzzer sounded, with the Lightning obviously frustrated by the outcome of the game. The Bruins held their ground though, and had won game 5, 3-1.

Post-Game Breakdown

This was a huge win for the Bruins. Boston came out slow, and allowed an early 1st period goal for the 2nd straight game at the Garden. The 1st period was an awful performance by the Bruins. The offense was invisible, getting just 4 shots on net the whole period. Boston went over a 13 minute span without a shot. The defense made just 1 crucial mistake, which resulted in the early goal. The Bruins were outshot 34-20 in the game, but still came away with the win. This shows how great Tim Thomas was, and how mediocre Mike Smith was. Smith was virtually untested all night. He faced 4 shots in the 1st, 8 shots in the 2nd (which he allowed 2 goals), and 8 shots in the 3rd. The Bruins should not have won this game, and Guy Boucher should have started Dwayne Roloson. I think Roloson would have had a better game, and the Lightning would have had a better chance to win. The reason the Bruins won this game was quite simply, Tim Thomas. Thomas was monstrous in net. He allowed the 1st shot on goal into the back of the net, and then stopped the other 33. He was virtually perfect, and his offense helped him out just enough. Thomas has now stopped 30+ pucks in every game thus far. The Lightning played a great game, had solid defense, and plenty of chances on offense. They just ran into a red-hot Tim Thomas.

On a more serious note, Johnny Boychuck exited game 5 after a blindsided hit by Steve Downie, in which Boychuck’s head whiplashed into the end glass. Boychuck hit the ice, and stayed down for a moment. Boychuck was wobbly when he stood up, and was aided by Bergeron and Ference off the ice, where he went immediately to the dressing room. He did not return. He said he was fine as he left the arena with Tomas Kaberle, and coach Julien said about the hit, “I haven’t had an opportunity to look at it, I haven’t watched the video yet. I know some people have. From what I hear, it’s not a great hit. I’ll maybe reserve my comments a bit more until after I see it.” I certainly hope the league looks at this hit, and suspends Steve Downie for 1 or 2 games.

I look for a much better game from the Bruins in game 6. They appeared to have no energy the entire night, and were very fortunate to pick up the win. Boston needs to come out with a burning fire to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1990. I think game 6 will be a bit more high scoring, with both teams scoring 3 or 4 goals. An interesting statistic; after this win, the Bruins are now 7-0 when Nathan Horton scores, and 8-0 when Bergeron has an assist. I look for the Bruins to win game 6 Wednesday night in Tampa, and return to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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