Tampa Shows Guts
On Saturday the Tampa Bay Lightning's performance in the first period of Game 4 didn't go as planned. Already down 2-1 in the series, the Bolts came out strong but three untimely goals by Boston's Patrice Bergeron (with two) and Michael Ryder stunned the St. Pete Times Forum crowd with Boston up 3-0, and Tampa Bay's season hanging in the balance.
Dwayne Roloson should have stopped all three goals, but all goalies have games like this. Roloson carried the Lightning into the playoffs and anyone who knocked him for his poor performance in Game 4 should give their head a shake. Mike Smith came in and stopped every shot he faced, again (he did it in Game 2 as well). The fact is, Roloson will almost definitely get the start tonight in Game 5 in Boston based on the fact that he bounces back spectacularly. There was a stat shown about Roloson and Tim Thomas about their records in bounce back games, and their combined record was only one loss after being pulled the game before.
Even with Smith's epic performance, Tampa was still down 3-0 after one period. They were in danger of going down 3-1 in the series, which is always a steep hill to climb, but they dug deep and started playing Tampa Bay hockey again.
Teddy Purcell scored two goals in just over a minute to make it a one goal game in the second. Then before you knew it the game was tied after Sean Bergenheim scored his ninth goal of the playoffs. All three goals came from grinding behind the Boston net. The Bergy-Dominic Moore-Steve Downie line has been unstoppable so far and they stepped up again, although Downie left the game with an apparent head injury.
Going into the third, anything can happen but Tampa couldn't afford to lose this game. At one point Boston was outshot badly and Tampa kept coming. Again, the Bolts exploited Tomas Kaberle, who has looked very pedestrian throughout the playoffs. After blocking a shot, the Bruins turned the puck over at the blueline allowing Tampa to gain the zone easily as Kaberle was clearly heading for the bench. He stayed in the play but ended up backing into Thomas as Simon Gagne scored the game winner.
Martin St. Louis scored into an empty net to seal the win for Tampa, but Boston didn't really put up a fight. The only good chance they had to tie the game was on a deflection by Nathan Horton that almost snuck through Smith. Other than that, Boston didn't have a chance.
Maybe they underestimated the Lightning's will to win, maybe not, but Tampa Bay really showed that they came not just to compete in the playoffs, but to win at all costs.