Bruins

Bruins vs. Lightning takeaways: Halak rises to challenge in Game 1 victory

Bruins
Jaroslav Halak makes a save against the Lightning.
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The Boston Bruins have won Game 1 in five consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff series after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.

Boston earned a 3-2 victory to open their second round series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Bruins' top line scored two goals, Charlie Coyle also got on the scoresheet with a goal and David Krejci's power-play assist extended his point streak to seven games. 

Here are three takeaways from Game 1 (all advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Jaroslav Halak comes up clutch Halak outplayed Lightning goalie and Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy with 35 saves on 37 shots. He was particularly strong in the second period when the Lightning totaled 34 shot attempts, 18 shots on net and 15 scoring chances. Halak didn't give up a goal during that stretch, which allowed Boston to go into the third period with a 2-0 lead.

"(Halak) was dominant that (second) period," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "The other two goals, I think one went in off Charlie (McAvoy), the other one had eyes, so they certainly got a couple of fortunate ones, but boy did he make some saves in the second where (the Lightning) probably deserved better."

The veteran goalie also shined during 5-on-5 play with 29 saves on 30 shots, including 10 saves on 10 high-danger shots.

Halak remains undefeated (4-0) since taking over for Tuukka Rask as Boston's starting goalie in the playoffs. He has a .936 save percentage with seven goals allowed in those four games. He's given the B's a chance to win each of those matchups, and that's all Boston needs.

 

2. Bruins' special teams still firing on cylinders The Bruins power play has been red-hot since going 0-for-4 against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their first round series. Beginning with Game 2 versus the 'Canes, Boston has scored on six of its last 18 opportunities with the man advantage, including 39 shots on net over that span.

The B's went 1-for-3 on the power play in Game 1 against the Lightning with 11 shot attempts and six scoring chances. Boston scored on a second-period power play when David Krejci fired a perfect cross-ice pass to David Pastrnak, who unleashed a rocket from inside the right faceoff that beat Vasilevskiy.

The Bruins penalty kill also did a fine job against the Lightning power play. Tampa Bay was unable to score on any of its three opportunities with the man advantage. The Lightning's power play struggles are becoming a real problem as they are now 0-for-13 since the start of Round 1.

Both of these teams are so good at 5-on-5, so whichever club is able to earn the upper hand on special teams probably will win the series. Credit the Bruins for being better in this phase of the game Sunday night. 

3. Perfection Line lives up to its name The Bruins' best players outperformed their Lightning counterparts in the series opener. 

Here's a look at the stats from Boston's top line:

Brad Marchand: One goal, one assist, three shots Patrice Bergeron: One assist, five shots, two blocked shots, 63 percent on faceoffs David Pastrnak: One goal, one assist, three shots

All three combined to score Boston's third goal in a very impressive sequence during the third period. It started with Bergeron picking the pocket of Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh with a beautiful defensive play. He got the puck to Pastrnak, who passed it to Marchand in front of the net. Marchand buried the scoring chance to give Boston a 3-0 lead.

The Bruins are extremely tough to beat when this line is playing at a high level. In fact, the B's improved to 28-2 all time in the playoffs when Marchand scores a goal. The Lightning will not win this series unless they do a better job slowing down this trio.