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Lightning bounce Bruins from playoffs in five games

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will play for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning earned a 3-1 decision in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins, sending the Bruins into hibernation mode after taking the series 4-1.

The series will be largely defined by what the line of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were able to accomplish after Tampa’s top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Miller took a back seat.

Point scored his third goal of the series to erase David Krejci‘s first-period tally, slotting home after making a patient play around Tuukka Rask.

Point, who finished with seven points in the series, helped the Lightning rebound from their 6-2 Game 1 defeat with a four-point night, a performance that one could argue was a turning point in the series. The Lightning cruised from there, allowing eight goals during their four-game winning streak.

Point’s time-on-ice jumped by over two minutes from Game 1 to Game 5, and it was well-deserved.

Contributions from Tampa’s top line weren’t as relevant as they were against the New Jersey Devils. Kucherov had 10 points in that series but just two points in the second round. Stamkos had a pivotal goal in Game 4 to force overtime, but had only an empty-netter otherwise.

Miller made his presence felt in Game 5, first by knocking David Backes out of the game with a crushing hit in the second period, and then minutes later, offering up the go-ahead goal that stood as the game-winner.

Boston, meanwhile, couldn’t find much in the way of scoring outside of Game 1.

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined four just four goals over the final four games of the series and secondary scoring from the Bruins was virtually non-existent, ultimately spelling the end to Boston’s season.

The Lightning now waits for the winner between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington leads the series 3-2 after a 6-3 win on Saturday.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Crushing hit forces Bruins’ Backes from Game 5

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Boston Bruins forward David Backes won’t return to Sunday’s Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after a big hit in the second period.

Backes was stood up by Tampa forward J.T. Miller at the Lightning blue line as Backes was trying to get the puck into the zone.

The hit seemed to stiffen up Backes as he fell to the ice, where he laid for several minutes before having to be helped off it by two Bruins and then helped down the tunnel by members of Boston’s training staff.

There was no penalty called on the play. Miller scored the go-ahead goal later in the period and the Bruins trail 2-1 in the third period with their playoff lives on the line.

Backes is no stranger to the concussion.

He was concussed on this hit by William Carrier:

And there was the Brent Seabrook hit:


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Bruins’ Krug done for series with ankle injury

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This is not good news for the Boston Bruins ahead of Sunday’s Game 5 in Tampa Bay.

Not only will they be facing elimination and a 3-1 series deficit against the Lightning, but they will have to try and keep their season alive for another game without the services of one of their top defenseman, Torey Krug.

Krug exited Friday’s Game 4 with an apparent ankle injury midway through the third period. He did not return and did not play in overtime where the Lightning went on to win, 4-3, thanks to a Dan Girardi goal.

On Saturday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Krug did not make the trip to Tampa Bay with the team and that he will not be available for the game.

Later in the day, the Bruins broke more bad news regarding Krug.

Per the Bruins’ team website:

Boston Bruins Head Team Physician Dr. Peter Asnis issued the following update on defenseman Torey Krug:

Torey Krug injured his left ankle during Game 4 of the second round playoff series on Friday, May 4. He will not be available for the remainder of this series as he undergoes additional testing to determine the full extent of the injury. Further information will be made available after all testing is complete.

Nick Holden, acquired in a pre-deadline trade from the New York Rangers, will play in Krug’s spot.

“He did a good job for us when he went in,” Cassidy told NHL.com on Saturday. “We’re going to miss Torey, obviously. He’s a good player for us and really adds to our offensive side of things, but Nick’s done a good job so in he’ll go.”

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

The 30-year-old Holden has only played in one game this postseason, logging 12 minutes of ice-time and recording an assist in the a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of their first-round series.

The Bruins are already playing without defenseman Brandon Carlo who has been sidelined since the end of March with an ankle injury.

Krug’s absence is going to be significant because he is such a big part of the team’s offense. He finished the 2017-18 season as the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 76 games. He was also — by a pretty wide margin — the team’s leading scorer among defensemen.

More on Bruins vs. Lightning

Girardi, Lightning push Bruins to brink of elimination
Brad Marchand enrages Lightning with lick, low-bridge (Video)
NHL tells Marchand to stop licking opponents

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Girardi, Lightning push Bruins to brink of elimination

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have one foot in the Eastern Conference Final.

Dan Girardi scored 3:18 into overtime to give Tampa a 3-1 series lead after taking their second straight at TD Garden.

Girardi’s goal capped off a third-period comeback with his winner. Steven Stamkos scored his first goal at even strength in 21 games to erase the Bruins’ 3-2 lead.

There was some controversey on Stamkos’ goal as it appeared Nikita Kucherov tripped up Charlie McAvoy prior to the Stamkos one-timer that tied the game 3-3.

Brad Marchand, who wasn’t without his own controversy on the night after throwing a low hit on Ryan Callahan before licking him in a scuffled after, wasn’t none too pleased with the non-call.

The Bruins’ top line got their band back together in the game, but not before Tampa took a two-goal lead in the first 10 minutes of the first period.

The Bruins found themselves trailing early and spending time killing off penalties as Brayden Point and Kucherov put the visitors head. Kucherov’s goal was his first of the series.

Patrice Bergeron‘s line with David Pastrnak and Marchand took over from there, regaining the mojo that had worked so well for them in Game 1 — their only win of the series thus far.

Pastrnak pulled the Bruins one back in the first and Bergeron netted the next two as the Bruins took their first lead in the third period.

The series shifts back to Tampa for Game 5 on Sunday afternoon and the Lightning now has a chance to close the series out at home.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Bruins try to even up; San Jose-Vegas face pivotal Game 5

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Game 4: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET (Lightning lead 2-1)
NBCSN
Call: Kenny Albert, Pierre McGuire
Series preview
Palat, Lightning strike down Bruins to take 2-1 series lead
Stream here

Game 5: San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2)
NBCSN
Call: John Forslund, Joe Micheletti
• 
Series preview
Martin Jones stands tall as Sharks even series
• 
Stream here

More:
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second round schedule, TV info
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub