Victor Hedman scored with 5:50 left in the second overtime as the Tampa Bay Lighting booked their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff finals with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday.
Sweden’s Hedman snapped a shot through the legs of Bruin defender Brandon Carlo and beat goaltender Jaroslav Halak to give the Lightning a 4-1 series victory and their fourth appearance in the NHL final four in the past six seasons.
Forward Patrick Maroon provided the screen in front of the net for Hedman, who timed his snap shot perfectly.
“Obviously, a great feeling. We battled really hard today,” Hedman said. “We’re very happy, as a group, to move to the conference final.”
It was redemption for Tampa who were swept out of the playoffs last year in the first round after a record-setting regular season.
Tampa will face either the Philadelphia Flyers or the New York Islanders in the next round.
“It was gutsy,” Tampa coach Jon Cooper said. “We needed every bit of energy to get through that first overtime. Tongues were dragging. I’m proud of this team.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 45 shots, and Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli scored a goal each for the Lightning. Palat has stepped up offensively for Tampa in the postseason to fill the void left by an injury to their top scorer Steven Stamkos.
The Lightning also lost Russian forward Nikita Kucherov, who left the game with an injury in the second period.
Palat scored on a tip of a one-timer from Kevin Shattenkirk to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead early in the second. The goal was Palat’s fifth in his last four games.
Halak, who finished with 32 saves, started the playoffs as the Bruins No. 2 goaltender but he was thrust into the starting role when Finland’s Tuukka Rask opted out of the NHL’s quarantine bubble in Toronto, Ontario.
David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for the Bruins, whose impressive campaign as one of the top teams in the league during the regular season came to a frustrating finish.
In Edmonton, Swedish forward Andre Burakovsky had two goals and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars.
The Avalanche scored five goals over a 10-minute stretch during the first period to cut their deficit to three games to two in the Western Conference semi-final series.
Game six is scheduled for Wednesday.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each added a goal and an assist for the Avalanche.
France’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Nazem Kadri also scored, and Canadian goaltender Michael Hutchinson stopped 31 shots.
Joe Pavelski, Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars, who were attempting to reach the conference final for the first time in a dozen years.