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NHL: Bruins host Lightning in pivotal Game 5 in the East Finals

By Tyler Hunt     May 23, 2011 in Sports
The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning meet tonight at TD Garden for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The series will take an interesting turn tonight as one team will find themselves a win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
In one of the most back-and-forth series in this years playoffs, Tampa Bay will be looking to continue their offense tonight, as they Bolts have scored at least five goals in three of the four games played thus far.
Martin St. Louis and captain Vincent Lecavalier continue to lead the way for the Lightning with 17 points each, good for third and fourth in the league, respectively. They've also received help from their second and third lines, as Sean Bergenheim leads the league with nine goals, and Teddy Purcell has chipped in four goals and eleven assists for 15 points.
41-year-old Dwayne Roloson has been terrific for the Lightning these playoffs, but the Bruins have also done a better job of exposing him this series than Washington or Pittsburgh were able to in the earlier rounds.
For Boston, it will be about weathering the storm. The Bruins have been outshot in every game this series, but they've managed to hang on and have had some exceptional goaltending from Tim Thomas throughout these playoffs. Thomas' .929 save percentage is not far off his record-setting .938 in the regular season, and despite letting in some soft goals at times throughout this series, Thomas has made the big saves when Boston needs them.
Nathan Horton has been quiet as of late after scoring a goal and two assists in Game 2, and having had seven points in his last four games going into Game 3 on Thursday.
The big winger will be relied on by the Bruins if they want to take the series lead, and he'll need help from linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic if the Bruins are going to be successful.
Lucic has just one point this series for the Bruins, and only six in total these playoffs. Krejci, who led Boston in scoring in the regular season with 62 points (along with Lucic), has been good for 12 points this post-season, with 11 coming in the past eight games.
There was much talk of the ice time that the Bruins' Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were receiving on defense, with the thought that Claude Julien wanted to reduce their ice time significantly to allow them to play better hockey for less minutes. The pair went from over 28 minutes each in Game 3, down to around 25 minutes each in Game 4, but Seidenberg was a -2 in the 5-3 loss to the Lightning.
In a series that has seen Tampa Bay take the first game and Boston take the next two in a row, it begs the question whether the Bruins can bounce back from their Game 4 defeat, or if Tampa Bay will take a grip over the series and head back to Florida with a 3-2 series lead.
If the Lightning can win the series, it will be their first appearance in the Finals since the 2004 Cup Final that saw them win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Bruins are looking to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since the 1989-90 season, where they lost in five games to Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers.
Puck drop tonight is at 8 PM at TD Garden.
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