Boston at Tampa Bay
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning go after a fourth straight victory to potentially close out the Eastern Conference semifinal series when they host the Boston Bruins for Game 5 on Sunday afternoon. Captain Steven Stamkos tied the contest in the third period and defenseman Dan Girardi tipped home the winner in overtime as the Lightning rallied for a 4-3 victory Friday to give themselves a chance to finish their second series in five games.“It’s going to be the hardest game in the series, it always is,” Tampa Bay right wing Ryan Callahan told reporters of the potential close-out matchup. “And especially against a group like that who’s been there before, and there’s a lot of veteran guys over there. It’s good it’s at home for us, but at the same time, it’s going to be a tough one.” The Bruins have not recorded an even-strength goal since Game 2 after scoring twice with the man advantage and once short-handed during the rally that gave them a 3-2 lead in the third period Friday. Right wing David Pastrnak had one of the power-play tallies for Boston and leads the team with 20 points in the playoffs while center Patrice Bergeron had two goals in Game 4 to give him five in the series. “Desperate hockey,” Bergeron said of the mindset for Sunday. “You know we’ve shown character all year. You know I’ve spoken about the resilience in this room, so it’s time to show it.”
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Defenseman Torey Krug, who has 12 points in 11 playoff games, suffered a left ankle injury after crashing into the boards feet first Friday and has been ruled out for the rest of the series, perhaps giving veteran blue liner Nick Holden a spot in the lineup. Left wing Brad Marchand had a pair of assists Friday and boasts eight points in the series (17 in the postseason), but has managed only seven shots on goal overall in the four games. Left wing Rick Nash, who has five goals and four assists in his last four playoff games at Tampa Bay, scored twice in Game 1 but has been held to one assist since.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: Tampa Bay’s top line is beginning to produce after a slow start to the series as Nikita Kucherov scored on the power play and Stamkos had a goal for the second straight contest. “Our line has been talking a lot about wanting to have a better game,” Stamkos said of his unit that includes J.T. Miller. “Obviously, it’s not a matter of will. We knew eventually it was going to come.” Defenseman Victor Hedman did not have a point in the first playoff series, but has recorded five assists in the last four games against Boston to become the franchise’s postseason leader in that category (36).
1. The Bruins are 4-for-9 on the power play, but have drawn seven fewer chances than the Lightning (4-for-16) in the first four games.
2. Kucherov’s power-play tally gave him 53 career playoff points, moving him ahead of Vincent Lecavalier (52) for second in franchise history.
3. Bergeron can pass Rick Middleton (111) for fifth in games played in the postseason Sunday and is tied in goals with C David Krejci and Wayne Cashman (31) for ninth.