May 6 (UPI) — J.T. Miller scored the decisive goal, eliminating the Boston Bruins and sending the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals after a 3-1 victory Sunday in Game 5 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fl.
Miller’s game-winning score came on a power play 14 minutes into the second period after a rotating Nikita Kucherov set Miller up in the slot to beat Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman drained an empty-netter with under two minutes left to seal the 4-1 series win and the Lightning’s third Eastern Conference Finals appearance in four years.
The Lightning play the winner of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins series, with the Capitals currently holding a 3-2 series lead. Tampa Bay will hold home ice in the upcoming series against the winner.
“Going into Game 5 with [New] Jersey and again with Boston, you don’t want to let the series linger and give them life,” Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan told reporters following the win.
Lightning forward Brayden Point opened the scoring for the Lightning 10:43 into the second period to even the game at 1-1 after a dazzling backhand shot beat Rask. It was Point’s fourth goal of the postseason and second-straight game with a goal.
“I think Pointer’s line, the way they responded after that first game, was pretty inspiring to us as a team,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said.
“Pointer leading the way there with Pally [Ondrej Palat] and Johnny [Tyler Johnson]… Unreal. They’re a huge reason of why we won,” Miller added.
Boston forward David Krejci gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 47.6 seconds left in the first period after draining a top-shelf one-timer to beat Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy on the power play. It was Krejci’s third goal of the postseason.
Vasilevskiy faced 28 shots and made 27 saves, including 14 stops in the final period, to stabilize the Lightning. Rask stopped 19 of 21 shots in the series loss.
The Capitals and Penguins face off Monday at 7 p.m., and a tentative Game 7 could take place Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to set the matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals.