Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Malone, Gagne break out for Bolts

Categories: BOS vs. TAM, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Tampa's Simon Gagne scored the game-winner against Boston in Game 4. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images) Tampa's Simon Gagne scored the game-winner against Boston in Game 4. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
In Games 1 through 3 of the Eastern conference final, the Lightning didn't get what they wanted from either Ryan Malone or Simon Gagne. The two wingers weren't providing offence, weren't crashing the net, and weren't providing support for Tampa's top-line gunners.

All that changed in Game 4.

Malone and Gagne, as Steven Stamkos's wingmen, both submitted their best performances of the series. Coach Guy Boucher said Malone (five shots, one assist, three hits, 15:22 of ice time) was one of his two stars of the game, which the Lightning won 4-3 with a furious rally to tie the series 2-2.

"He was very eager to help the team," Boucher said. "'He's a warrior. He pays the price in so many areas. Sometimes you notice, sometimes you don't notice it. We notice it every game and every shift he plays. He inspires this team."

Malone's physical play on the forecheck led to Tampa's momentum-changing first goal. First, Boston goalie Tim Thomas flubbed an exchange behind his net with Zdeno Chara. Then, Malone barreled into Chara and dumped the defenceman. Gagne won the puck and found Teddy Purcell in front for the first of his two goals.

In the third, Malone and Gagne connected for the game-winning goal. Malone picked off Milan Lucic's clearing pass and went on the attack. He then backhanded a shot on goal that deflected off the stick of Dennis Seidenberg. Gagne found the rebound and whistled the puck through Thomas's five-hole.

Gagne scored a goal and had two assists in 14:58 of ice time.

"He's a clutch player," Boucher said of Gagne. "He's always been. I guess when he's not, it's because he retired."

Smith saves the day

At 17:58 of the first, Boucher pulled Dwayne Roloson for the second time in three games. Roloson was replaced by Mike Smith after allowing Patrice Bergeron to score a long-distance short-handed goal between his pads.

For the second time in the series, Smith blanked the Bruins. He stopped all 21 shots he saw, and made eight saves in relief during Game 2. Smith has not allowed a goal in the playoffs.

"Smitty has been terrific," Boucher said. "He's had an average of over .940 since Dec. 15. The fact that Rollie came in certainly helped him with pressure and poise and all that. Whenever he was asked to play since Roloson has been there, he's been terrific."

Boucher danced around the question of whether Smith or Roloson would start Game 5. Given how shaky Roloson looked Saturday and how well the Lightning have played in front of Smith, it's likely that Game 4's relief netminder will get the nod on Monday at TD Garden.

First-line ghosts

In Game 3, Boston linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci connected for the winning goal in the first period. In Game 4, neither first-liner -- wingman Nathan Horton was just as culpable -- did anything to help the Bruins.

"[Krejci's] line, after two periods, had no shots on net," coach Claude Julien said. "Ended up with two shots in the third period. There's more than David on that line. I think it was a tough night for their line tonight. We know what impact they have for our hockey club when they're on. Tonight was a tough night for that line."

Krejci had zero shots and lost nine of 12 faceoffs. He was on the ice for three of Tampa's five goals. A Krejci turnover led to a dump-in, which, in turn, resulted in Tampa's Sean Bergenheim thumping Boston's Tomas Kaberle and the tying goal in the second.

Lucic had one shot in 16:57 of ice time. He turned the puck over to Malone in the third period which led to Tampa's game-winning goal.

Horton landed one shot in 18:11 of ice time.

Downie shaken up

Steve Downie left the game at 17:25 of the second and never returned because of an undisclosed injury. Horton belted Downie into the wall and was called for roughing, while Downie was nailed for diving. Boucher said Downie is day-to-day.