Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Twitter goes crazy reacting to Lightning vs. Blue Jackets five overtime thriller

NHL Twitter goes crazy reacting to Lightning vs. Blue Jackets five overtime thriller

Where were you when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets needed five overtime periods in Game 1 of their first round Stanley Cup Playoff series?

Hockey fans won't soon forget Tuesday's thrilling matchup at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

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The Blue Jackets and Lightning opened their series with a 3 p.m. puck drop, and we didn't have a winner until about 9:30 p.m. ET when Tampa Bay center Brayden Point scored in the fifth overtime for a 3-2 victory. The last playoff game to require five overtimes was a 2003 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.

This game went so long that the league was forced to postpone Game 1 of the first round series between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, which was supposed to be played at 8 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena.

Here's some of the best Twitter reaction to the quintuple overtime classic.

Sources: Barclay Goodrow not looking at supplemental discipline for head shot on Anders Bjork

USA TODAY Sports photo

Sources: Barclay Goodrow not looking at supplemental discipline for head shot on Anders Bjork

There isn’t expected to be any supplemental discipline of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow after his blindside hit to the head of Anders Bjork in Wednesday afternoon’s round robin game, per league sources.  

The Bruins lost a 3-2 decision and nearly lost the young, speedy Bjork when he was clipped in the jaw with a drive-by hit from Goodrow after releasing a puck toward the near the blue line.

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Goodrow was whistled for a two-minute charging penalty and the play was, at first blush, eerily reminiscent in some ways of the Matt Cooke head shot on Marc Savard in 2009 that effectively ended his NHL career.

There were some significant differences in the details between the two plays, however, and that factored into the decision. Bjork’s head position changed as he shot the puck and lowered immediately prior to the hit being delivered, and in the league’s estimation Goodrow had already committed to making the hit and wouldn’t be able to change course at the last minute.

Per the NHL rules concerning head contact, a factor in determining whether a hit to the head was illegal and punishable is “whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.”

There was a similar hit from Craig Smith on Connor Garland in Tuesday’s Nashville/Arizona game that also went unpunished by the NHL Department of Player Safety, so there is some consistency there in this postseason.

Bjork was able to return to the game in the third period and didn’t appear to be any worse for the wear after presumably going to the NHL’s Quiet Room to get checked out by the Bruins doctors. Matt Grzelcyk responded to the hit while going after Goodrow and that started a large scrum of both teams in the corner during a particularly physical final 40 minutes of Wednesday afternoon’s playoff game.

All of this sets up a pretty nasty potential rematch between the Bruins and the Lightning down the line should the two Atlantic Division rivals meet up in the later rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Better for the Bruins? Yes, but difficult to see them beating Tampa

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Better for the Bruins? Yes, but difficult to see them beating Tampa

A measly little round-robin win certainly would have gone a long way toward assuaging the raw nerves of panicky Bruins followers after a shaky first few strides to this year’s B’s postseason run.

The two points might have also kept the B’s in the running for the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference bracket. But that’s not exactly what happened in Wednesday’s 3-2 Bruins loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena in the Toronto bubble.

At least there were positives this time around rather than the utter mediocrity the B’s tossed out in each of the first two bubble games, and things to be encouraged about from a Bruins perspective. At the very least, the effort resembled the same Bruins team that amassed 100 points during the truncated regular season, and the same couldn’t be said about the mediocre losses to Columbus and Philadelphia.

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The chippiness factor also elevated against Tampa Bay, and that’s something the Bruins didn’t bother with in those first two meaningless games.

“We wanted to show more passion, more competitiveness than we did against the Flyers. I certainly thought we did that. Some of that is that Tampa has become a natural rival. They’re finding ways to win games at the end against us. We’re going to have to obviously correct that,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I did like that our competitive spirit came out. We got behind, but we didn’t get away from our game. We didn’t lose our composure either or discipline. I thought we kept playing, tried to ramp up the physicality and win a few more pucks.

“[We tried to] create energy in that fashion. Obviously, Torey’s reaction was a hit he thought to Carlo was high, and from behind, so he reacted, just as [Matt Grzelcyk] did later on the hit on [Anders] Bjork. That’s just sticking up for one another. A lot of times that does get a team going and certainly with our team, a group that likes to play for one another. It certainly had an effect on the game and I thought we did get going after that. Obviously scoring a goal gets your group excited. That faceoff goal was a big one for us. We haven’t scored much, so I’m sure that had a lot to do with it as well.”

The Perfection Line looked a little closer to normal and produced a goal after a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win in the offensive zone. Big winger Nick Ritchie threw his size around and played with a chip on his shoulder while crashing into the Tampa net and giving the Bruins forward group the kind of snarl they’ve missed at times over the last few years.

Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara both chipped in to the B’s offense with point shots that did offensive damage.

Tuukka Rask was solid after a soft goal allowed in the first period and made a series of big-time stops in the third period to keep the game tied before a defensive breakdown led to Tampa’s game-winner on the rebound. It was Rask who held things down for the B’s while Tampa Bay outshot them by a 16-9 margin in the final 20 minutes and showed a clear skating speed advantage over Boston throughout the game.

The fourth line continued to be a source of inspiration and energy for the B's as well with Chris Wagner scoring his second goal in as many games while scrapping for pucks around the net. Both Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk stepped up and protected their teammates as the smallest D-men on the Bruins roster, and in doing so sparked their teammates.  

These were all things to be enthused about from a Black and Gold perspective.

“I thought it was a good effort. Obviously not the start you want, but after that I thought we took it to them and had some pretty good looks, some chances and tied the game up,” said Patrice Bergeron, who finished with an assist and won 18-of-25 draws against the Lightning. “Obviously, you want to give yourself a better chance and go into overtime and find a way. It’s obviously not the result that you want but definitely felt more like [Bruins hockey] tonight.”

The feel-good element was all well and good for the Bruins as they continue an upward progression to their play through the round-robin tournament. Once the real playoff games begin, nobody is going to be too worried about what happened during the round-robin games.  

But let’s be honest: The Lightning are a bigger, faster, deeper and more explosive group than the Bruins. Just watching new trade additions Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow become pesky, physical factors against the B’s reminded everybody that they were better trade deadline additions for the Bolts than Ritchie and Ondrej Kase have been for Boston.

At the end of the day, the Lightning controlled play against a “better” Bruins team to the tune of a 35-27 shot on net advantage, and they started and ended strongly with the B’s getting a little more of an advantage in the middle.

The round-robin win for Tampa served as a consolation prize of sorts for the Bruins based on the way Boston played, but it also still feels like the B’s will be hard-pressed to beat the rival Lightning in a head-to-head playoff match down the line. It’s all a harsh reminder that Boston’s run to the Cup Final last spring was paved by both Tampa Bay and Washington bowing out in the first round.

It’s not going to be nearly as fortuitous this time around and it’s difficult to see them advancing past this Tampa team if they do indeed face each other again during this tournament.