Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the Boston Bruins 7-1 on Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde also scored for the Lightning, who started 3 for 4 the night on the power play to snap an ugly 0-for-15 stretch dating back to their five-game victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves for Tampa, which was coming off Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory that evened the best-of-seven matchup between the Eastern Conference heavyweights.
Brad Marchand replied for the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak allowed four goals on 16 shots before getting replaced by rookie Dan Vladar, who finished with 12 saves. Boston, which sat first in the NHL when the league suspended its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, will look to rebound in Friday’s Game 4 back at an empty Scotiabank Arena.
Unlike the three NBA contests postponed Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t come out for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic as players across the sporting world reacted in the wake of the weekend shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, the NHL went ahead with Bruins-Lightning, choosing instead to hold a brief “moment of reflection” prior to the national anthems.
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Major League Baseball games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, the Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego, and Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were also called off hours before first pitch. Five of six Major League Soccer fixtures were also postponed.
“Racism has been embedded in our society for far too long,” the public address announcer at Scotiabank Arena said in a prepared statement. “Today and every day, the NHL and the hockey community are committed in the mission to combat racial injustice and achieve a fair society for all.
“The NHL would like to take this moment to wish Jacob Blake and his family well, and call out to our fans and communities to stand up for social justice and the effort to end racism.”
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Tampa led 2-0 after the first period and went up by three at 2:14 of the second when Sergachev blasted a one-timer past Halak for his first of the post-season and the Lightning’s second man-advantage goal of the evening.
Marchand got that one back on a Boston power play with his seventh at 4:45, but Killorn batted home a rebound on another Tampa man advantage at 8:53 for his third to make it 4-1.
The 23-year-old became the first goalie in Boston’s history to make his NHL debut in the playoffs, and just the 11th all-time. Vladar made his first three saves, but could do nothing on Point’s breakaway at 15:23 as Boston’s Torey Krug and Tampa’s Tyler Johnston were throwing fists at the other end of the rink.
Killorn then scored his second of the night when Gourde’s shot caromed off the end boards right to the Lightning centre at 18:01.
Kucherov got in on the action with his fourth at 3:58 of the third after a nifty move by Point off the rush.
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The Lightning took a 1-0 lead on a power play at 12:46 of the first when Palat — Tuesday’s overtime hero — blasted a one-timer from the right circle that hit the stick of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and fooled Halak for his second.
Tampa struck again just 15 seconds later on another unfortunate sequence from a Boston perspective. Gourde moved into the offensive zone, and as Jeremy Lauzon moved to angle him off along the boards, the Bruins defenceman bumped into linesman Devin Berg. That created an opening for Gourde, who cut in alone and outwaited Halak for his third.
The Lightning dressed the same 11 forwards and seven defencemen for the second straight time in 24 hours with workhorse blue-liner Ryan McDonagh still out with an undisclosed injured suffered in the third period of Boston’s 3-2 victory in Game 1.
The Bruins, meanwhile, also suited up 11 forwards and seven defencemen, with centre Sean Kuraly, winger Andres Bjrok and blue-liner Connor Clifton out and forwards Par Lindholm, Lauzon and John Moore.