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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tyler Seguin will give you pants tents for days

With last night's roller coaster 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins tied the Eastern Conference finals 1-1 with the series shifting to Florida tomorrow night for Game 3.

If his career pans out, the foremost memory from the win will be rookie Tyler Seguin's absurd four-point night. After sitting out the first two playoff series', he had a goal and assist in Game 1 on Saturday. He doubled that output and better yet, did it all in one period (the second, tying a team record) as Boston turned a 2-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead and then held on for dear life.

It's hard to believe that Boston goaltender Tim Thomas (36 saves) had a good game when he gave up five goals, including a couple soft ones but trust me when I tell you that he made a couple unbelievable stops in the third to secure this vital win.

Lightning goaltender and Stephen King doppleganger Dwayne Roloson (21 saves) came back to Earth like you knew a 41-year-old journeyman eventually would. Like Thomas, he actually made a bunch of solid stops (in the first period) but was done in by a leaky defense in front of him and pulled after the second period.

In a crazy contest, it's only fitting that Boston's beyond dead power play arose from the dead, scored two goals and created numerous other chances. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

Once again, Tampa Bay took an early lead, this time 13 seconds into regulation as Adam Hall (first of the playoffs) took advantage of a shot off the back boards that bounced right to him as he used his backhanded to put in a tough angle shot. Vincent Lecavalier and former Bruin Nate Thompson assisted on that gift.

Nathan Horton (sixth of the playoffs) got the Bruins on the board with their first power-play strike, at 13:58. He tipped in Dennis Seidenberg's shot from the point with Tomas Kaberle picking up the second assist.

The B's absolutely dominated play in the first period (18-11 shot advantage) yet it was a bitter feeling as the Lightning scored another fluky goal with seven seconds left in the frame. Steven Stamkos threw the puck at the net and Martin St. Louis was in front to bat it in past Thomas for his seventh of the playoffs. Lecavalier also assisted on that one.

Yes, the B's almost committed a nightmare of a collapse in the third period as they seemingly couldn't gain control of the puck or do simple things like score into an empty net but hey, they won. With Patrice Bergeron likely to make his return in Game 3, there's much to be excited about.

Given the stakes and setting, I honestly can't think of a better period than the one submitted in the second by Boston (5-1 in a must-win game in the Eastern Conference finals). Therefore, I stand by my delirious Tweet from last night that said "best Bruins period of my life." For 20 minutes, Claude Julien's boring defensive system was thrown into the trash as Seguin and the Bruins' other most talented forwards flew around the rink.

Seguin tied it up 48 seconds into the second after Michael Ryder sprung him for a breakaway. The 19-year-old knows what do in that position and he beat Roloson with a sweet backhander.

At 2:24 Seidenberg found David Krejci with a nice cross-ice feed and Krejci one-timed it for his sixth goal of the playoffs. Horton also assisted on his linemate's tally.

At 6:30 Seguin roofed a forehand shot over Roloson, assisted by Horton and Adam McQuaid. It's not understatement to say the TD Garden went bananas at that point, breaking out the Tyler.....Seguin chant.

Lecavalier (sixth of the playoffs) struck on a Tampa Bay power play to pull the Lightning within 4-3 at 7:48. St. Louis and Stamkos had the assists.

The ghost of Michael Ryder stopped by for a visit late in the second period and it was a pleasant stay as he potted two goals of his own (his third and fourth of the playoffs). He scored on the power play at 16:16 from Seguin (of course) and Kaberle. With 19 seconds left in the second, Ryder jumped on a rebound and scored after Roloson had stopped shots from Chris Kelly and Seguin.

I don't know how to explain it but Boston is just the worst hockey team ever playing with a lead, especially when it's more than one goal. Furthering my point, they were completely lifeless in the third period as Stamkos sniped one over Thomas' shoulder at 3:47 (his fifth of the playoffs) from Victor Hedman and Hall.

The clock seemed to be stuck in slow motion or maybe it was just the Bruins who seemed to be killing an invisible penalty all period. When former Harvard star Dominic Moore put in a rebound (on a play that should have been whistled dead since Thomas' mask came off) at 13:15, it looked like Tampa Bay was going to win this game.

Thankfully for hearts across New England, that didn't happen as the B's managed to hang on despite things like Milan Lucic shooting over an empty net (something you don't see every day).

Last night only proved that this series is probably going to the distance (seven games) either way. Tampa Bay has too much firepower to go down quietly but Boston has better goaltending (usually) and defense (sometimes) with more overall depth. Seguin really is the X factor; if he can continue to produce and Bergeron returns, I like the B's chances to get to their first Stanley Cup final since 1990.

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