TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Boston and Tampa Bay have played a pair of surprisingly high scoring games and the trend might continue the way the Eastern Conference finals is going.
The series is tied 1-1 and the teams have combined for 18 goals.
That kind of offense seemed unlikely heading into the matchup with the top two playoff goalies this season: the Lightning’s Dwayne Roloson and the Bruins’ Tim Thomas. Both allowed an average of two goals a game through the opening two playoff rounds.
“They’re All-Star players, and they’re players that are top-notch players in the league,” Roloson said on Wednesday. “The guys we have on our team and the guys they have on their team, there’s going to be times when you can’t contain them. They’re gifted players, so they’re going to take advantage of the chances that they get.”
Lightning center Steven Stamkos agrees.
“You got two teams that know how to score goals,” he said. “I think both teams would agree that it was, some of the goals you’d like to have back as a team, and by no means was there really any fault on the goaltenders.
“A lot of goals are being scored, but a lot of them are either coming up off lucky bounces or breakdowns in the defensive end that are leading to pretty good scoring chances.”
Still, Roloson made a number of outstanding saves during Tampa Bay’s Game 1 victory, while Thomas came up big late in Boston’s 6-5 win in the second game on Tuesday night.
“I saw him in the third, the last five, six minutes we had a lot of grade-A chances,” Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said of Thomas. “He gave them the win there the last five minutes. We really felt we would tie it up, and we were getting our chances, but he made some huge saves.”
Game 3 is Thursday night in Tampa and if scoring continues to come from unexpected players the big numbers will continue.
Boston rookie Tyler Seguin has three goals and three assists in the series. The No. 2 pick in last year’s draft didn’t play in Boston’s first two series, and rejoined the lineup because Patrice Bergeron was out because of a mild concussion.
“Obviously he’s a young kid playing in the NHL, and if he wasn’t good enough or capable of playing here, he wouldn’t be here,” Roloson said. “He’s got great skill. He’s capitalized on the chances he had.”
Bergeron, a top faceoff man, has resumed practicing. The center had two goals and 10 assists in 11 postseason games this season before getting hurt during the conference semifinals.
“I’m sure he’s going to play the next game,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said.
Bergeron will take part in Thursday’s pre-game skate, at which time his playing status will be re-evaluated.
“I can’t tell you right now whether he is in or not, and that’s being honest, but he’s certainly inching closer to making a return as long as there are no setbacks,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But all I can tell you is that we can probably make a decision on whether he is going to be OK to go or not.”
Third-line winger Sean Bergenheim has eight goals in 13 playoff games, and began a stretch of three Tampa Bay goals in 85 seconds in the first period of the Lightning’s 5-2 opening-game victory.
“I think from our perspective, we’re happy that we’ve scored five goals in both games,” Stamkos said. “But there’s no way it’s acceptable to allow six (Tuesday), and we need to find a way to address that.”
Notes: Boucher doesn’t expect Pavel Kubina (undisclosed upper-body injury) to play in Game 3, but said the defenseman is making progress. Kubina hasn’t played since the first game of the Washington series when his head went into the glass on a hit. … Julien said Seguin will be in Thursday’s lineup whether or not Bergeron returns.