In a Game Seven that had the feel of an overtime contest almost right from the start, the Bruins got the one goal that proved to be the difference, earning Boston a trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1990.
The pace of play was impressive early, with few whistles meaning that there weren't many commercial breaks, contributing to the overtime-like feel.
Then, as the game went longer and longer without a goal, it became more likely that the first goal could be the winner and, sure enough, it was.
Nathan Horton finished off a nifty pass from David Krejci with 7:33 remaining and that goal was the only one of the night. Horton left the game for a time in the first period, after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury, but returned to a regular shift.
Horton (3 G, 4 A) and Krejci (5 G, 2 A) were Boston's leading scorers in the series and Krejci was a threat for much of Game Seven, creating several good scoring chances and winning 14 of 17 (82.4%) of faceoffs in the game.
Goaltenders Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson were a major factor in the low-scoring game, with Thomas stopping all 24 Lightning shots he faced, while Roloson stopped 37 of 38 shots by the Bruins. It was Thomas' second shutout of the series and stopping only 24 shots tied his season-low for saves in a shutout, so full credit to Boston's defensive play.
Lightning winger Sean Bergenheim, who led Tampa Bay with nine goals in the postseason, wasn't in the lineup for the second straight game, due to a groin injury.
Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos appeared to suffer a broken nose in the second period, taking a Boychuk slap shot in the face. True to the hockey player code, though, Stamkos barely missed any time at all, getting a cage put on his helmet and getting right back in the action.
Stamkos finished the series with seven points (2 G, 5 A), tied with Vincent Lecavalier (1 G, 6 A) and Martin St. Louis (4 G, 3 A) for the team lead. St. Louis led the Lightning with 20 points in the postseason, one ahead of Lecavalier and three ahead of Teddy Purcell in the Tampa Bay scoring race.
With home ice in Game Seven, the Bruins had last change and did a terrific job getting Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg out against Vincent Lecavalier, virtually for every shift that the Lightning centre was on the ice, limiting Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos to a total of four shots on goal.
By comparison, Horton led the Bruins with six shots on goal, contributing to the 13 shots on goal that Horton, Krejci and Milan Lucic had on Roloson.
It was a thoroughly impressive season for the Lightning, coming within half a period, on the road in Game Seven, of advancing to the Cup Final a year after finishing out of the playoffs with just 80 points in 2009-2010.
The Bruins now brace for a Stanley Cup Final that will be even more challenging than the series they just survived.
While both teams will be rested by the time the series starts next Wednesday, the Canucks should be a relatively healthy group and, with Vezina nominee Roberto Luongo in goal for Vancouver, Thomas and the Bruins won't be expected to have a decisive advantage in goal. Expected or not, the Bruins will have a chance if Thomas is on top of his game.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.