Tampa Bay evened its best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series with the Boston Bruins at one game apiece with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Tyler Johnson broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second period and Ondrej Polat netted the game winner with 5:52 remaining in the third as the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The Bruins pushed the limit weathering a first-period Lightning storm, but finished the stanza tied at one. Tampa Bay struck first with a power-play goal by Yanni Gourde at 11:47, while having outshot the B’s 10-0 to that point. Boston was held without a shot until 14:02.
Some of the problems that have plagued the Bruins throughout the playoffs thus far - turnovers and trouble exiting their own defensive zone - continued through opening minutes. But Tuukka Rask continued his strong showing from Game 1 and kept the Bruins in the game early.
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It wasn’t until they were awarded a 1:45 two-man advantage that the Bruins started to get their feet going. Tampa keeper Andrei Vasilevskiy fought off a David Pastrnak one timer, and he also benefitted from a shot that hit both posts before rolling wide to keep Boston off the board.
With 1:30 remaining Charlie McAvoy wristed a shot past Vasilevskiy’s right pad from the low slot. Brad Marchand started the play after intercepting an errant Lightning pass in the neutral zone and then feeding Patrice Bergeron who was streaking down the right side. Bergeron left it for the trailing McAvoy who lit the lamp to tie the score.
In addition to dominating play for chunks of time, the Bolts were also more physical, outhitting the Bruins 42 to 24. Tampa’s Brayden Point rebounded from a poor showing in Game 1 and finished with an empty netter and three assists.
Torey Krug scored the other Bruins goal.
The series heads to Boston for Game 3 Wednesday at TD Garden.