Palat pots two as Lightning take series lead over Bruins

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 to seize a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference NHL playoff series.

Palat, of the Czech Republic, scored two unanswered goals in the first period on Wednesday with the first coming just 1:47 in and the second at 3:19 for the Lightning who have won two consecutive games after losing the second round series opener on home ice.

"Boston came in and took one of our games at home, we had to take one of theirs on the road," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. "We did that."

Palat's first goal came after Boston defenceman Matt Grzelcyk lost track of the puck in his own end resulting in a two-on-one chance for the Lightning which they finished off in front of a crowd of 17,500 at the Boston Garden arena.

Palat made it 2-0 just 92 seconds later on a shot that deflected off Bruins defenceman Torey Krug past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins cut the lead to 2-1 at 14:12 when Patrice Bergeron scored on the powerplay for his fourth goal of the postseason.

Cirelli, with his first career NHL postseason goal, scored just over two minutes later to restore the Lightning's two-goal lead.

Tampa forward Steven Stamkos closed out the scoring with a long shot into the empty net on the power play with 42 seconds left. It was just the second goal of the playoffs for Stamkos who had 86 points in the regular season.

"It's not good, obviously, but we've come back a lot," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "So this is nothing new."

Rask finished with 33 saves for the Bruins, who host game four on Friday night.

Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy said they are just going to have to regroup for the next game.

"Playoffs are desperate hockey," McAvoy said. "You don't ever go into any games saying 'Oh, we have the luxury of being able to lose this one.'"

In San Jose, the Sharks scored twice in the first period en route to a 4-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights that tied their Western Conference series at two games apiece.

Marcus Sorensen, Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski all scored for the Sharks and goaltender Martin Jones stopped 34 shots in his sixth career playoff shutout.

"I thought that was probably our most complete game of the series," Jones said. "We managed the puck really well tonight, we made them work for offence.

"Our penalty kill was big tonight as well," he added after Vegas failed to convert all five power-play chances.

Game five of the series, which has seen the teams alternate victories, is in Las Vegas on Friday.