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Kevin Paul Dupont | On hockey

The Bruins couldn’t get a lead, so it was a losing battle against the Lightning

Anthony Cirelli's goal gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead in the third period.Elsa/Getty

All done in Bubbledom.

The Bruins ended their longest season Monday night in Toronto with a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Tampa Bay, the Lightning clinching their Round 2 playoff series, four games to one.

The end came at 14:10 of the second overtime when Victor Hedman snapped home a short-range wrister with Patrick Maroon setting a screen in front of Jaro Halak.

Thus ended Boston’s hopes of winning the franchise’s seventh Stanley Cup. It ended a season that began Oct. 3, 2019, in Dallas and ended Aug. 31, some 11 months later, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the season for five months.

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“We prepared. We worked. And these things have to work out perfect to win,” said veteran winger Brad Marchand. “Everything has to go your way — the calls, the bounces. Everyone needs to play their best all the way through and it’s tough to look back and say, ’What if …?’ ”

Matt Grzelcyk consoles Patrice Bergeron after the Bruins' loss.Elsa/Getty

Lots of Bruins fans will wonder if the outcome would have been different had Tuukka Rask not left the bubble after Game 2 of the first–round series vs. Carolina. Halak took over, went 4-4, and couldn’t be the difference the rest of the way, the Bruins offense turning tepid in the Tampa series.

“We only have so many kicks at the can,” added Marchand. “And everyone, especially when we retire, we will look back and say — that’s when it’ll hit us — and say, ’What if?’ But right now it is what it is. If you dwell on it, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to suck, but that’s how it goes. Only one team can win.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy’s voice was quaking during his postgame Zoom conference.

“I told them it was an honor and privilege to coach these guys,” he said. “There are days I am frustrated … but we come to work every day. We are disappointed it didn’t go better for us. No doubt.”

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Bruce Cassidy reacts during the Game 5 loss to Tampa Bay Monday night.Elsa/Getty

Observations from Game 5:

▪ The Bruins did not play with a lead for a single second in Games 3, 4, or 5. The Lightning, who led for a combined 13:41 on Monday night, played with the lead for 111:56 in Games 3, 4, and 5.

▪ It looked like the Bolts had the winner with only 7:57 remaining in regulation when Anthony Cirelli slipped behind Connor Clifton and provided a redirection off a Hedman shot from the right circle to make it 2-1.

But David Krejci was back with the equalizer only 5:24 later, providing an easy tap at an open right side when a pass by captain Zdeno Chara deflected through the slot off the stick of Ondrej Palat. A rare bit of luck for the Bruins in this series.

It appeared that Chara was going for a shot, likely hoping for a hot rebound with Krejci advancing in the slot. Instead, the shot turned into a pass — and eventually led to overtime.

▪ Running out of chances to win the series, it became more of a struggle for the Bruins at 5:51 of the third when a questionable hit by Cedric Paquette buried top defender Charlie McAvoy head-first into the boards.

McAvoy needed help to get back on his skates and looked dazed as he headed to the dressing room. The Bruins were down to five D-men for the next seven minutes.

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Charlie McAvoy lies on the ice after being hit by Tampa Bay's Cedric Paquette during the third period.Elsa/Getty

No call on the play, despite its nastiness. Reason: McAvoy pulled up short of the boards and looked to turn, just as the oncoming Paquette hammered him from behind. Tough to blame the victim, but it happens in a fast game.

▪ Clifton saw extra ice time during McAvoy’s absence. And it was Clifton who failed to contain Cirelli on the goal that handed the Bolts their brief 2-1 lead.

▪ Through 80 minutes, the Bruins held a 46-28 shot edge. They fired 88 times, landed 46, and had 42 more either blocked or go off net. Charlie Coyle led the shot troops, landing 10 of 12 shots.


▪ The Bruins, with the season on the line, were without Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, and Nick Ritchie — three forwards that Cassidy normally would want in his lineup. Ritchie was fortunate not to get tagged with a suspension for a five-minute boarding call in Game 4, but it was an unspecified injury that kept him sidelined.

▪ Biggest moment in a scoreless first period came at 12:48 when Chara was tagged with a double minor for his high stick on Tampa Bay sniper Nikita Kucherov.

The Bruins had to live without their captain and top penalty-killer for four minutes and did so admirably, not allowing a single shot on net.

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Zdeno Chara and Tampa Bay's Brayden Point battle for the puck during the first period.Elsa/Getty

However, Kucherov did not return for the remainder of the period, be it because he was clipped in the head by Chara’s high stick or an unspecified injury. One of the reasons they did not land a shot in 4:00 of advantage time was that the mighty Kucherov was back in the dressing room.

▪ Tampa lost highly valued defenseman Ryan McDonagh to injury in Game 1. But he was back for Game 5, with bench boss Jon Cooper keeping to an 11 forward/seven defensemen alignment. The Bruins had their only power play in the opening 20:00 late in the period and McDonagh made two key plays — a shot block and a prevented pass.

▪ The Bolts, after rolling up a 10-2 scoring advantage in the previous two games — and a 57-54 shot edge — managed to squeeze off only five shots in the opening period. However, they were managing some good chances that didn’t make it to Halak’s net. So, even without shots, they were a constant threat and easily could have had two or three goals in the opening period.


▪ Ondrej Palat connected for Tampa’s 1-0 lead only 4:21 into the first, tipping home a quick snap by Kevin Shattenkirk after Blake Coleman won a puck battle down low on the right side. It was the third game in a row the Bolts scored the opener, and the third game in a row Palat scored it.

David Pastrnak is congratulated by his teammates after his second-period goal.Elsa/Getty

▪ The Bruins, looking almost relieved to be behind, rolled up the next 11 shots, culminating in David Pastrnak’s 1-1 equalizer on a power-play goal. Pasta unloaded a patented one-timer from the left dot. But the play belonged to Krejci, who relayed over from the right circle with a sizzling slap pass.

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Krejci pulled back for a back-scratching slapper, drawing a commitment from Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. When Krejci instead sent his pass to the opposite wing, Pasta had a wide open left side to bury his shot.

▪ Pastrnak saw extra shifts at right wing during the second, subbing for Ondrej Kase on the Krejci line. It might have been just because Cassidy wanted to give Pasta more reps. It also could have been because McDonagh nailed Kase with a hit to the head in the opening two minutes of the period. Kase has a troubling history of concussions.

▪ From the time the Bolts took the 1-0 lead in the second, the Bruins rolled up a 15-3 shot advantage for the remainder of the period. Finally, they were getting rubber to the net. After 40:00, they had fired 45 times at Vasilevskiy, landing 23 of those chances, while Tampa hit Halak with only 13 of 33 chances.

▪ The newly assembled Boston line of Anders Bjork-Coyle-Jack Studnicka collected 10 of the club’s 23 shots in the opening 40:00.



Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.