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    The Tampa Bay Lightning Adidas Auston Matthews Jersey , with a primary assist from a team that handled them during the regular season, are back in the Eastern Conference final for the third time in four years.

    Thank you, Boston Bruins.

    I guess I can say it now. Boston set the bar for us, and we played them three times late in the year, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after his teams 3-1 victory over the Bruins ended their second-round playoff series in five games.

    The first two times we played them, they literally manhandled us. and we knew if we were going to go anywhere when we made the playoffs, or if we made the playoffs, that we had to be as good as Boston, Cooper added.

    We beat them 4-0 (in the last meeting). I think that gave us a little hit of confidence. I guess a lot of confidence. and, ultimately we carried that through into this playoff round.

    Brayden Point and J.T. Miller scored second-period goals and Anton Stralman added an empty-netter with 1:29 remaining to end any chance for a Boston comeback.

    Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots 14 in the final period for the Lightning, who rebounded from losing the series opener at home to eliminate the Bruins in five games.

    Boston won three of the four games between the teams during the regular season, finishing one point behind Tampa Bay for the Atlantic Division title and the No. 1 seed in the East.

    The Bruins outlasted Toronto in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs. They scored six goals to beat the Lightning in Game 1, but had difficulty scoring after that.

    Over the last three games, Boston failed to score an even-strength goal.

    Youve got to give them credit. Were a team that scored all year long with different players in and out of the lineup, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.

    We scored against Toronto Sam Darnold Jersey , so its not like after 89 games we forgot how to score or not play the right way, Cassidy added. I think their D corps is big and they move the puck. They did a good job of not allowing us to get inside.

    David Krejci scored on the power play in the final minute of the first period to give Boston a 1-0 lead that Point erased with his unassisted goal at 10:43 of the second.

    Millers power-play goal broke the tie less than four minutes later, and Stralman added an empty-netter with 1:29 remaining.

    Theyre a really good team. They have been all year, Bruins winger Brad Marchand said. They compete extremely hard, they have a lot of speed. They were better than we were in a lot of areas, one of them being puck battles and their pursuit. It showed up in the end.

    One day after being put on notice by the NHL for licking Lightning forward Ryan Callahan during Friday nights overtime loss in Game 4, there were no more such incidents involving Marchand, who also made headlines after appearing to lick Torontos Leo Komarov in the first round.

    Marchand was given an edict Saturday to stop licking opponents or subject himself to a possible fine or suspension for future incidents.

    Cassidy said before the game that he had spoken with Marchand, delivering a simple, straight-forward message: We need you on the ice, we need you playing. If part of his M.O. is to annoy people, find a different way to annoy them. Preferably by scoring some goals, that would be the best way.

    Afterward, Marchand shrugged off a question about his discussion the previous day with NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell.

    It is what it is, Marchand said. I think its pretty stupid Youth Ryan Switzer Jersey , the whole situation, but if thats what they want to do, its what they want to do.

    The Lightning once again did a good job of containing Bostons top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Marchand. Although the trio combined for 23 points in the series (seven goals, 16 assists), about half that production (11 points) came in the Bruins 6-2 win in Game 1.

    Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy assisted on Krejcis goal, but Vasilevskiy came up big against the high-scoring line with four huge saves one on Bergerons point-blank shot in the closing minutes while Tampa Bay was killing off Bostons last power-play opportunity.

    The Bruins scored five goals over the final three games of the series, four of them on the power play and one short-handed.

    You cant rely on special teams every night to win games, Marchand said. They help for sure, but you have to be able to produce 5-on-5.

    NOTES: Bruins RW David Backes left the ice after taking a hard hit from Miller with just under eight minutes remaining in the second period. He did not return. The Lightning improved to 5-1 in Game 5s when holding a 3-1 series lead. Boston played without D Torey Krug, who injured his left ankle during Game 4. Nick Holden took over Krugs spot, making his first appearance since Game 3 of Bostons opening-round series against Toronto.

    Atlantic City and southern New Jersey have always been Philadelphia Eagles country.

    And with the local team in the Super Bowl, the seaside gambling resort can only dream of the extra millions of dollars it might have taken in had it been able to offer sports betting.

    The U.S. Supreme Court will decide New Jerseys challenge to a law banning sports betting in all but four states later this year.

    But the decision wont come in time to make up for the business Atlantic City thinks it would have gotten from die-hard Eagles fans, as well as casual fans, looking to bet on the Eagles-Patriots championship game on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

    Tropicana president (and lifelong Eagles fan) Tony Rodio said sports betting would generate a lot of new business for Atlantic City.

    The northeast corridor is a giant sports betting market Erik Gonzalez Cleveland Indians Jersey , he said. If you take the Eagles and put them into the mix, I just cant even imagine how big that would be. It would take it to a whole new level.

    Alas, that is not to be, at least this season. The Supreme Court ruling might not come until June. Legal analysts predict New Jersey has a decent chance of winning the case with a ruling that would permit sports betting in the state or across the nation.

    Sports betting would be offered at Atlantic Citys casinos and the states horse racing tracks.

    City Councilman Marty Small, an Eagles season-ticket holder who organizes an annual flight to see an Eagles road game, said Eagles fans would have booked every available hotel room in the city weeks ago in anticipation of watching and betting on their team in Atlantic City.

    We would have been totally sold out by now, the whole city, he said. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party day of the year, and people would have come from near and far to claim Atlantic City as their party place. Were missing a golden opportunity this year.

    This year, casinos in Las Vegas expect betting on the Super Bowl to surpass last years record of $138.5 million.

    Drew Leonard, lifelong Eagles fan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who grew up in southern New Jersey and used to visit Atlantic City twice a month, said he would go to the resort to bet a few hundred dollars on the Eagles, if it were legal.

    Anything that would bring in more people and business would definitely help Authentic Barkevious Mingo Jersey , he said, predicting Philadelphia will beat New England by a touchdown.

    Of course, if sports betting were legal, a sizeable number of people would be expected to come to Atlantic City to place bets regardless of which two teams were playing in it.

    Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns three of Atlantic Citys seven casinos, said the northeastern U.S. is probably the biggest driver of sports betting, noting that there are hard-core sports fans who would come to Atlantic City to bet on football, even if it involved the Cleveland Browns.

    But the presence of the local market-favorite Eagles would have added some extreme excitement and vibe to the game, he said.

    Even without sports betting, Atlantic City casinos are trying to cash in on Eagles mania. The Caesars Entertainment casinos (Harrahs Ballys and Caesars) are considering bringing in retired Eagles players to meet and greet customers.

    The Tropicana is using green lights to illuminate two indoor fountains, and all last weekend, it sprinkled the recorded sound of an eagle screech from time to time into the overhead music playing in the casino.

    Follow Wayne Parry at .

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