Lightning 5 Bruins 2
BOSTON — The swift-skating Tampa Bay Lightning wasted little time taking control of the Eastern Conference finals.
Surprising playoff scorer Sean Bergenheim began a stretch of three Tampa Bay goals in 85 seconds in the first period and the Lightning beat the Boston Bruins 5-2 on Saturday night for their eighth straight win.
“We’re not a team that’s waiting to win games,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said after the Lightning grabbed home-ice advantage. “We like to push to win games.”
Bergenheim, who scored just 14 goals in the regular season, got his NHL-high eighth of the playoffs at 11:15. Brett Clark connected at 11:34 and Teddy Purcell wrapped up the onslaught, both with unassisted goals as the Lightning capitalized on Bruins mistakes.
The two goals in 19 seconds and three in 1:25 are club records.
“That’s what we do,” Bergenheim said. “We went in on the forecheck and we went in front of the net and we score that way.”
Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 overall draft pick last year, scored for Boston with 4:01 left in the first period in his playoff debut.
Tampa Bay scored twice in the last seven minutes — Marc-Andre Bergeron on a power play and Simon Gagne into an empty net — before Johnny Boychuk made it 5-2.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Boston.
Both teams were coming off long layoffs after sweeping their previous series. It was the first game in 10 days for the Lightning and first in eight for the Bruins.
“Rust was even on both sides as far as the time off so you don’t want to use rust as an excuse,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, “but I think the effort was something that we’re going to need more of.”
In the final minute, the Bruins frustration showed when Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were given game misconducts. Lucic was penalized after punching Victor Hedman.
“That is part of the game,” Hedman said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
The speedy Lightning, the 2004 Stanley Cup champions, came out aggressively in an arena where they were just 4-25-6 before beginning their first playoff series ever against the Bruins. They won 61 per cent of the faceoffs with the Bruins top faceoff man, Patrice Bergeron, sidelined by a mild concussion.
“It’s so important to start with the puck,” Julien said. “When you don’t win as many draws as you’re used to, you’re backpedaling a little bit.”
The Bruins, in the conference finals for the first time since 1992, lost for the second time in 10 games. But they lost the first two games against Montreal in the opening round then won it in seven.
“It’s only one game,” Boucher said. “We haven’t done anything yet.”
The Lightning did take advantage of some miscues by the Bruins.
“I thought we gave them some easy goals and that was more of our doing than it was theirs,” Julien said.
Bergenheim scored after Tim Thomas made a save and Dennis Seidenberg tried to clear the rebound with his right skate after losing his stick. But the puck went right to Bergenheim and he beat Thomas from just in front of the crease.
“It was just a big battle in front of the net,” Seidenberg said. “I lost my stick and I obviously didn’t know what to do without a stick and the puck at my feet. I kicked it to whoever scored the goal.”
It quickly became 2-0 when Clark skated all the way up the right side, passing at least two Bruins who let him go by, and scored his first playoff goal when he shovelled a backhander from the right side off Thomas’ right arm.
“It takes a lot of energy from you” to allow two goals so close to each other, Boston’s David Krejci said. “Somehow you’ve got to find a way to find the energy and go out there the next shift and try to … maybe get a goal.”
But it was the Lightning who got that goal, the result of a giveaway from Bruins defenceman Tomas Kaberle. He had the puck behind his own net then skated to the left and lost control. An aggressive Purcell was there to take it away. Thomas stopped the first shot, but Purcell got his second goal when he put the rebound behind the NHL’s regular-season leader in goals-against average and save percentage.
“We capitalized on some opportunities,” Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson said. “We got a couple lucky ones.”
Seguin replaced Bergeron, one of the Bruins’ best players in the post-season.
The rookie, an outstanding offensive player who had been benched for the first 11 playoff games in part because of his defensive shortcomings, then did what he does best. He cut quickly between defencemen Mike Lundin and Marc-Andre Bergeron, sending an off-balance Lundin sprawling to the ice, and beat Roloson with a forehand shot to the goalie’s left.
NOTES: A pre-game moment of silence was observed for Derek Boogaard, the New York Rangers’ enforcer found dead in his Minneapolis apartment on Friday . . . Tampa Bay’s previous playoff records were 55 seconds for fastest two goals (April 23, 2006 at Ottawa) and 3:07 for fastest three goals (May 27, 2004 vs. Calgary) . . . Gagne played after missing three games because of a concussion . . . Boston was scoreless on four power plays and is 2-for-41 in its 12 playoff games.