Before last year, the Boston Bruins had failed to win after taking a three-goal lead in a playoff game just twice in franchise history. They've now done it twice in 16 games.
Just as they did in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia, the Bruins grabbed a 3-0 lead on Saturday against Tampa Bay but couldn't hold it. The Lightning scored three times in less than four minutes in the second period to tie the score before Simon Gagne scored 6:54 into the third period and set up Martin St. Louis' empty-netter in a 5-3 victory.
Gagne also had the game-winner for the Flyers last spring, when Philadelphia became only the third team ever to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a Game 7.
Before last year, the only times the Bruins had failed to turn a three-goal lead into a playoff win were Game 2 against Montreal in the 1971 Quarterfinals, when the Canadiens rallied from a 5-2 deficit for a 7-5 win, and Game 4 in the 1993 Adams Division Semifinals against Buffalo, when a 5-2 lead turned into a 6-5 overtime loss.
It was the third time in this year's playoffs that a team has overcome a deficit of three or more goals to win. San Jose rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat Los Angeles 6-5 in Game 3 of their first-round series, and the New York Rangers blew a 3-0 lead in the third period and lost Game 4 of their opening-round series to Washington 4-3 in double overtime.
Smith's still perfect -- Mike Smith, Tampa Bay's backup goaltender, has given the Lightning a boost as a "relief pitcher" against the Bruins.
Smith entered Saturday’s game after Patrice Bergeron’s second goal of the game at 17:58 of the first period gave Boston a 3-0 lead and was perfect the rest of the way, stopping all 21 shots he faced and giving the Lightning a chance to come back.
It's the second straight game he's relieved Dwayne Roloson and not given up a goal. On Tuesday, Smith played the third period after Roloson surrendered six goals in the first two periods and stopped all eight shots he saw. The Lightning, trailing 6-3 entering the final period, scored twice but lost 6-5.
In all, Smith has stopped 29 of 29 shots in 62:02 of playing time in the two games – his first career appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Coming up "short" – Patrice Bergeron's second goal of the game not only sent Dwayne Roloson to the bench for the second time in three games, it was also the first shorthanded goal of the series – and the first of the playoffs by the Bruins.
It was also the first shorthanded goal allowed by in 15 games Tampa Bay in this year's playoffs – and just the eighth one scored in 78 games this spring. The Lightning also has scored just one; Mattias Ohlund hit the empty net in the final seconds of Game 2 of the opening round against Pittsburgh.
In all, there have been only eight shorthanded goals scored in 78 games during this year's playoffs. Nashville (2) is the only team with more than one. San Jose, battling Vancouver in the Western Conference Finals, has gone 16 games without scoring one.
Turnabout in the circle – One big difference in Game 4 came in the faceoff circle.
In Boston's 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Thursday, the Bruins won 37 of 65 faceoffs (56.9 percent), with David Krejci going 13-5 and Patrice Bergeron winning 18 of 28 draws. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier was the biggest victim, going just 9-for-25.
But Game 4 saw almost a complete reversal. The Lightning went 39-26 (60 percent) on faceoffs, with Lecavalier winning 14 of 21. In contrast, Krejci was just 3-for-12.
Through four games, the team that has fared better on faceoffs has done the same on the scoreboard. Tampa Bay was 41-26 on draws in its 5-2 win in Game 1, while Boston won 41 of 73 faceoffs in a 6-5 win in Game 2.