The Prince of Wales Trophy was in the building last night, but like all of the Boston Bruins players, coaches and media, it will reluctantly fly back to Boston to see who will claim it on Friday night.
The stats of the game were pretty close, with the Lightning asserting a slight shot total advantage, 26-20. Hits, penalty minutes, giveaways and takeaways were all close enough to have the outcome go either way, but it was the Tampa Bay power play that really made the difference. While Boston went a pretty typical 1 for 5, the Lightning went 3 for 4 en route to turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead that they would never relinquish.
It was a night for multi-goal games, as Marty St. Louis and Teddy Purcell each tallied two for the Lightning, and Boston’s David Krejci scored perhaps the most silent playoff hat trick in recent memory. Krejci and St. Louis ran their playoff goal totals to 10 apiece, while Purcell upped his number to 6. The other goal scorers were Milan Lucic (3) and Steven Stamkos (6). Five players added two assists — Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Steve Downie for Tampa, and Nathan Horton and Tomas Kaberle for Boston. Horton and Downie had especially surprising centering passes that led to yawning cage goals for Krejci and St. Louis, respectively.
The goalies were largely hung out to dry on many of the goals, but Dwayne Roloson was not particularly impressive in his return to the crease. Roli sported an .800 save percentage both at even strength and overall, which probably will not be good enough to win a road game 7 on Friday night. But he did do enough to win at home on Wednesday night while facing elimination, and in doing so has set up a fascinating do-or-die situation. The winner will get to hang a banner, win a trophy that won’t be touched, and get to play the Vancouver Canucks for hockey’s ultimate prize and a shot at immortality. The loser will have to go home and wonder what could have been.
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is Friday night at 8 p.m. ET; Tampa Bay at Boston live on Versus in the U.S.