TORONTO — Ondrej Palat scored at 4:40 of overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Tuesday to even their second-round playoff series 1-1.
Blake Coleman scored twice and Nikita Kucherov had the other goal in regulation for the Lightning, who got 22 saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Brad Marchand buried his second of the game to tie things with under four minutes left in the third period for the Bruins, while Nick Ritchie also scored. David Pastrnak added two assists for Boston, which got 36 stops from Jaroslav Halak.
The teams don’t have much time to digest the result, with Game 3 of the best-of-seven matchup set for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET back inside the fan-less Scotiabank Arena.
Tampa, which beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in quintuple overtime of Game 1 in the opening round before closing out the series in the extra period of Game 5 on a goal from Brayden Point, got the winner after Boston couldn’t clear the puck.
Palat jumped on a puck at the side of the net off a scramble to score his first of the post-season and send the Lightning pouring off their bench in celebration.
Acquired prior to February’s trade deadline from the New Jersey Devils, Coleman gave Tampa its first lead of the series at 10:40 of the third after taking a stretch pass from Victor Hedman. The Lightning centre moved in alone on Halak and snuck an off-speed shot through the five-hole after getting slashed by Bruins defenceman Connor Clifton.
Boston, however, responded with 3:58 left in regulation when Marchand finished off a pretty passing play. With the Bruins in the middle of a change — Patrice Bergeron would normally be on the ice — Sean Kuraly took a pass from Pastrnak and quickly fed Marchand to bury his sixth and knot things up.
Tied 2-2 through 40 minutes, the Lightning’s dormant power play got a chance early in the third, but Halak stopped Point on the best opportunity — one of nine shot attempts in a span of 100 seconds.
Then with the teams back at even strength, the Boston goalie, who’s been pressed into service after Tuukka Rask left the Toronto bubble because of a family emergency in the first round, stretched to rob Coleman at the side of the net with his pad before he would solve Halak for a second time a few minutes later.
Boston, which triumphed 3-2 in Game 1 on the back of Halak’s 35-save performance and Marchand’s winner, took a 2-1 lead with 5:27 left in the second on a power play. Pastrnak faked a one-timer before sliding a pass to Marchand at the side of the net to redirect his fifth past Vasilevskiy.
Tampa responded just 56 seconds later after some great work from Point. The diminutive centre twisted and turned in the Bruins zone before finding Kevin Shattenkirk, whose shot was tipped in by Kucherov for his third.
The Lightning dressed seven defencemen with Ryan McDonagh (undisclosed), who has averaged a team-high 26:07 of ice time in the post-season, out injured after leaving midway through the third period of Game 1. Veteran blue-liners Luke Schenn and Braydon Coburn drew in, while Carter Verhaeghe was scratched up front.
Boston owned the best record in the NHL when the league suspended its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but dropped to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference after losing all three of its games in the round-robin portion of the restart.
The Bruins found their groove in the first round of the usual 16-team playoff bracket before disposing of the Carolina Hurricanes in five games.
Tampa, meanwhile, had the second-best mark in the East and was fourth overall when the schedule was halted. The Lightning finished second in the round-robin and then downed Columbus.
The Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 3:14 of Tuesday’s first period after Tampa defenceman Zach Bogosian’s stick disintegrated at the offensive blue line. Boston broke the other way, with Ritchie collecting an Anders Bjork rebound off the end boards and stuffing his first past Vasilevskiy, who thought he had the puck covered.
The Lightning responded a couple minutes later when Barclay Goodrow tipped Coburn’s point shot up and over Halak. The Bruins, however, correctly challenged for offside after Point was a fraction of a second too slow exiting the Boston zone on the tag up.
Tampa head coach Jon Cooper fired a number of expletives at the officials when the play was reversed, but was back smiling on the bench after a surprising burst from an unlikely source finally knotted the score.
Bogosian, a bruising defenceman known more for physical play in his own end, burst up the ice, split two Boston defenders, and as he was getting knocked down fed a diving Coleman, who slid his second past Halak before crashing into the net at 12:42.