Ondrej Palat has found his scoring touch for the Tampa Bay Lightning who put Boston on the brink of playoff elimination Saturday, as the NHL returned from a two-day hiatus to protest racial injustice in the US.
The 29-year-old Czech forward opened the scoring in the first period and added another goal in the second to power the Lightning to a 3-1 victory and a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven NHL second round playoff series.
"Pally is a confident player," said teammate Brayden Point. "He's super reliable for us. He's always in the right spot, he's got tons of skill, he sees the ice well and he's got a heck of a shot.
"To see a couple go in for him now is awesome, and hopefully he can keep that rolling."
The league returned to the ice with three games Saturday after taking two days off in support of similar stoppages by other pro sports leagues to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by American police. It is just latest twist in the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season.
Russian forward Nikita Kucherov had two assists and Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots for Tampa, who will can advance to the next round with a win in game five on Monday.
Palat opened the scoring just under nine minutes into the contest as the Lightning took advantage of a Bruins turnover. Palat has now scored goals in three straight games.
Palat scored his second on a blistering one-timer just over halfway through the game and soon after Vasilevskiy made a clutch save on Boston defenceman Brandon Carlo.
Also, Finland's Leo Komarov scored the eventual winner and Jordan Eberle had two assists as the New York Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Matt Martin and Anders Lee also scored, and Semyon Varlamov had 26 saves to rebound after a sub-par game three that saw him yanked in the first period.
Tyler Pitlick scored for the Flyers in the first period, and Carter Hart had 26 saves. Game four is Sunday.
Also, Alex Tuch scored a goal and Robin Lehner got the shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their second round series.