TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Lightning struck three successive power-play goals on the way to a 5-4 win over the Boston Bruins Wednesday, setting up a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference finals.
The power-play triple brought the Lightning back from a 2-1 first-period deficit, and Tampa Bay held off the Bruins to level the best-of-seven series 3-3 and set up a decider on Friday in Boston.
The winner of that game will advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks, who claimed the Western Conference title in five games over the San Jose Sharks.
Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis each scored twice for the Lightning, while David Krejci had a hat-trick for the Bruins.
The Lightning struck just 36 seconds into the game when Purcell snapped a shot past netminder Tim Thomas off a faceoff won by Vincent Lecavalier.
The Bruins roared back, taking a 2-1 lead on goals by Milan Lucic at 7:09 and Krejci, who wristed the puck past Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson at 16:30 off Daniel Paille’s pass.
Boston dominated the remainder of the period and Tampa Bay, who scored on their first shot of the game, went the last 12:31 without a single shot on goal.
However, Tampa Bay caught fire in the second period after a power-play attack that had produced just two goals in their last 18 chances suddenly came to life.
“The last couple of games we’ve been a little tight,” said St. Louis. “Tonight we just let loose. There’s no tomorrow, don’t think too much. We got some big goals.”
Second-period power-play goals from St. Louis and Purcell put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2. Steven Stamkos scored again with the man advantage 34 seconds into the third period to pad the Lightning’s lead to 4-2.
“Obviously it was a difference maker. They scored three goals on the power-play. That dictated the game,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Boston battled back, Krejci’s power-play goal at 9:46 brought the Bruins to 4-3.
St. Louis countered with a goal on a beautiful two-on-one feed from Steve Downie to restore the two-goal cushion, but Krejci came right back to make it a one-goal game again, completing his hat-trick by stuffing the puck past Roloson at 13:28.
The Bruins put tremendous pressure on the Lightning in the final minutes, but Tampa Bay held on to set up the decider on Friday.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Peter Rutherford