The Bruins’ bid for a return to the Stanley Cup Final could end on Monday night.
Returning to action after the NHL’s two-day break to support other leagues’ protests of recent incidents of racial injustice, the Bruins lost Game 4 of their best-of-seven Round 2 series to the Lightning on Saturday, 3-1, to fall behind in the series, 3-1.
Ondrej Palat scored two goals for the Lightning, who got 29 saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Bruins, who had the NHL’s best record when the regular season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, face elimination in Game 5 on Monday inside the Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto.
The Lightning had most of the best scoring chances in the first period, were awarded two power plays, and scored the only goal. The B’s would have trailed by more than one goal if not for Jaroslav Halak, who denied several odd-man rushes and shots from in close.
A 2-on-1 rush ultimately led to the first period’s only goal. Torey Krug broke up Brayden Point’s attempted pass to Nikita Krucherov, but Point recovered the puck and fed it into the right circle for Palat, who lifted a quick shot over Halak’s right shoulder at 8:59. It was the third goal in as many games for Palat, who started the streak with the overtime winner in Game 2.
Palat struck again at 12:29 of the second period, this time on a shot Halak could have stopped but let tick off the end of his catching glove. The Bruins had turned in some of their best shifts of the game before that, with Kuhlman and Joakim Nordstrom driving hard to the net for separate chances that resulted in point-blank rebound opportunities for Charlie Coyle, Nordstrom and Charlie McAvoy. Vasilevsky stopped them all in a 10-save period.
Nick Ritchie put the Bruins in a tough position late in the second: His late hit on Yanni Gourde resulted in a five-minute penalty for boarding, and the Lightning used the power play – plus a break – to make it 3-0. Victor Hedman scored the goal with a shot that hit Par Lindholm between and above the circles and floated through the air over Halak, who never picked it up. The Bruins were only 28 seconds away from killing Ritchie’s entire major.
Jake DeBrusk denied Vasilevskiy a shutout on a power-play goal with 12:56 left in the game. It was the Bruins’ first goal since Brad Marchand scored 4:56 into the second period of Wednesday’s Game 3 loss.