It’s child’s play no longer as Seguin puts a charge in Bruins’ offense
In last night’s second period, a 19-year-old became a man.
Tyler Seguin lit up Dwayne Roloson for two goals and assisted on two others. The five pucks with which the Bruins hammered the back of the Tampa Bay net were good enough to give the Bruins a 6-3 lead after 40 minutes and chase Roloson from the net.
Despite all that, Claude Julien was still offering thanks to deities after a 6-5 win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals before 17,565 at TD Garden.
“There was no doubt we were hanging on,’’ said Julien. “Thank God time was on our side and we came up with the win. We need to regroup here and take the win for what it is in the playoffs. But know that we’ve got to get better.’’
You wouldn’t think that after scoring six goals and taking a 6-3 lead into the third, the Bruins would have been sweating bullets, waiting for time to finally tick away. But a Steven Stamkos high-blocker laser turned it into a two-goal game. Then Dominic Moore jammed home a puck that had pinballed off both posts before rolling past a maskless Tim Thomas.
So there were the Lightning, with 6:55 remaining, pressing harder than ever to get the tying goal.
“Each time you get some odd goals like that, it can put you on your heels,’’ said Thomas. “The human tendency is to say, ‘It’s not going to be your night.’ The team didn’t do that.’’
It is a rare night when Thomas allows five goals. But while there were some goals that he might have stopped on a sharper night, Thomas still retained his sense of timeliness.
Consider the second-period stop he made on Ryan Malone. At the time, the Bruins held a 3-2 lead. But after Moore hit Malone to give the power forward a breakaway chance, the Lightning were moments away from the tying goal. In the previous series, Malone had beaten Marc-Andre Fleury with a breakaway slapper, an unusual move.
In the seconds during Malone’s approach, Thomas remembered that goal and held his ground in case a slap shot arrived.
“He didn’t take it,’’ Thomas said of a slapper. “Then when he did get in on me, I was just trying to stay with him and get any piece of my body on the puck.’’
Thomas held his ground and kicked out Malone’s shot with his left pad. On the following rush the other way, Seguin scored the second of his two goals, giving the Bruins a 4-2 lead.
Thomas was just as timely in the third. When the Bruins had a 6-4 lead, he flashed his right pad to boot out Vincent Lecavalier’s short-range wrister. Late in the third, after Tampa had closed the advantage to one goal, Thomas battled through traffic to smother a long-distance Marc-Andre Bergeron blast.
“It just shows his commitment, trying to make saves when he doesn’t have a helmet on,’’ said Chris Kelly, referring to Tampa’s fifth goal which went in after Adam McQuaid knocked off Thomas’s mask. “Obviously Timmy made some huge saves for us, seeing that they did a good job getting behind our defensemen and getting a few breakaways. I thought he came up big when we needed him.’’
There was nobody, however, with a better sense of timing than Seguin. With Patrice Bergeron, their best all-around player, out with a concussion, Seguin picked the right time to show he was ready for the playoffs.
In honor of Paul Bissonnette, Twitter’s favorite puck personality, this was SegNasty2point0: a complete reboot of the boy he had been for most of 2010-11.
“I guess the way he played tonight, he was a new player,’’ Kelly said.
Naturally, given his age, Seguin looked scared at times during the regular season. He was in suit and tie for the first 11 games of the playoffs. It required a Bergeron concussion for the coaching staff to even consider Seguin for game action.
Seguin’s goals will have a home as long as YouTube remains up and running. Early in the second, Seguin, in Ferrari-like fashion, peeled around traffic cones named Victor Hedman and Randy Jones. Later in the second, he took a dish from Nathan Horton and snapped a fast-moving riser.
But it was how Seguin assisted on a pair of Michael Ryder goals that might have been even more eye-turning.
During the regular season, hockey sense was never Seguin’s strong point. Last night, he looked like Einstein. When a shooting lane opened up, Seguin put a slapper on goal. Roloson stopped his shot, but Ryder was in position to jam in the rebound because Seguin was quick to pull the trigger.
In the final minute of the second, Seguin made his smartest play yet. Deep in the Tampa zone, Seguin pulled the puck off the left-side boards. Kelly was open in the slot, but the center didn’t even need to call for the puck. Seguin knew his centerman would be there, so he dished the puck to Kelly. Roloson stopped Kelly, but Ryder scored on the rebound with 18.9 seconds remaining in the period. It turned out to be the winning goal.
“For sure it is,’’ Kelly affirmed when asked about the difficulty of the play. “There’s no doubt he has a ton of skill and he’s a great player. That just shows with little plays like that.’’