By Brian Willwerth
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Bruins were struck early and often by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts made that early strike stand up.
Tampa Bay scored three goals in a span of less than 90 seconds in the opening period, and went on to win, 5-2 and now the Lightning lead the series, 1-0.
The Bolts got on the board at 11:15 of the period when Sean Bergenheim picked up a loose rebound in front of Tim Thomas, and put one in an open net. He has eight goals in the playoffs – four of them coming in the last three games. Then 19 seconds later, Brett Clark made it 2-0 when he broke in on the right wing and backhanded one past Thomas – a shot Thomas would love to have back.
Just over a minute later, Tomas Kaberle was sloppy behind his own net. Teddy Purcell picked up the loose puck and stuffed it behind an unsuspecting Thomas to make it 3-0.
The Bruins never recovered.
They did get on the board at the 15:59 mark when Tyler Seguin, making his playoff debut, made a nifty move to get through the defense and beat Dwayne Roloson to the glove side to make it 3-1.
The Bruins outshot the Lightning 12-10 in the opening period. But Tampa Bay had the lead.
In a scoreless second period, each team got its first power-play opportunities. The Lightning had several chances, but was denied by Thomas. The Bruins did not get a shot on Roloson when they had the man advantage. On their second and third power plays of the period, Boston put on more pressure, but as we’ve seen so often in these playoffs, no goals.
The Lightning outshot the Bruins in the period, 13-8. The guys in the white-and-blue sweaters had the edge in play.
The Bruins got another power play early in the third period. They had a few chances, but yet again, came up empty on the scoreboard. When the Bolts got their chance with the man advantage, they converted. Marc-Andre Bergeron’s shot from the point beat Thomas to the stick side to make it 4-1. After that tally, the number of empty seats at TD Garden grew exponentially. Simon Gagne added an empty-netter. Johnny Boychuk scored for the Bruins in what would be the equivalent of garbage time.
Tampa Bay outplayed the Boston on this night. There is little doubt about that. The Bruins have some work to do before Game 2 Tuesday night in Boston. But they lost the first game of the Montreal series at home, and we all know how that turned out.
Face off Tuesday is at 8 p.m.