BOSTON – Despite nearly five minutes of time on the two-man advantage throughout the contest, the Tampa Bay Lightning were defeated, 3-1, by the Boston Bruins Thursday night at TD Garden. The Lightning, who out-shot the Bruins 33-25, were also 0-for-5 on the power play.
“Five-on-five you couldn’t say one team is better than the other,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “Both teams had their chances and I didn’t think we gave up too much. Aside from the power play I was really happy with the way we played.”
Twelve minutes into the first period the Bruins opened scoring on a shorthanded penalty shot attempt by Chris Kelly for a 1-0 lead that stood until the midway point of the game. With 10 minutes left in the second the Bolts tied the game, 1-1, as Valtteri Filppula netted the Lightning’s first goal of the year in his Bolts debut.
Milan Lucic broke the tie however with one minute left in the middle frame for a 2-1 score for Boston. The lead was extended to 3-1 compliments of the Bruins Patrice Bergeron less than five minutes into the third period and would stand as the final. The tally was Boston’s second shorthanded goal of the game.
“You can go months without giving up two shorthanded goals, here we are giving up two in a game,” Cooper said. “That’s the frustrating part because that ended up being the difference in the game. Ultimately you have to win the special teams war regardless if it’s the power play or penalty kill and their penalty kill bested our power play tonight.”
Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback stopped 22 of 25 shots faced in the losing effort, while Filppula, Eric Brewer and Alex Killorn earned their first points of the season for Tampa Bay. The Bolts Steven Stamkos also led the team in time on ice with 24:42 logged and Radko Gudas added five hits.
Tampa Bay has now lost eight-straight road games dating back to last season.
With a number of shorthanded chances coming from Boston, the Bruins Kelly suffered a takeaway from the Lightning’s Filppula in the first. Kelly was then hooked by Mark Barberio and awarded a penalty shot. He capitalized on the shorthanded opportunity at 11:39 of the opening period for a 1-0 lead and the first goal by either team this season.
Tampa Bay regained composure after the penalty shot and a shaky power play and was handed nearly two minutes of 5-on-3 hockey. Near the end of the advantage and the opening period, St. Louis took a shot from the point, creating traffic in front of the net. The Bolts’ Tyler Johnson tried to dig the puck from up under Boston netminder Tuuka Rask, but was unable to score.
At the midway point of the contest the Lightning locked the score at one. Blueliner Brewer completed a pass across the slot to Filppula who potted his first goal at 10:32 for the Lightning. Boston took back the advantage with exactly one minute left in the first period however, as David Krejci came down the left side of Tampa Bay’s zone and quickly passed to Lucic, whose wrister beat Linback for a 2-1 lead.
Another 5-on-3 opportunity arose at 2:06 of the final frame for Tampa Bay, as Shawn Thornton and Zdeno Chara took penalties three seconds a part. With 1:57 of 5-on-3 action the Lightning were unable to manage a tally however on another poorly executed power play.
“Not only on the power play, but in some of the situations of the game I think we were looking for the pretty goal,” Cooper said. “Even though we had north of 30 shots we still got a little cute in some situations, but it’s early in the season, the power play can be fixed. It was just too bad that ended up being the difference.”
Stealing the puck from Richard Panik in the Lightning zone, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron skated down the right wing and scored when the puck bounced up and over Lindback. The goal, which extended their lead by two, was the second shorthanded tally of the game for the Bruins.
UP NEXT – The Lightning face the 2012-13 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks on Saturday in downtown Chicago in their second of a three-game road trip. The 8 p.m. contest is the first of two games between the two clubs in October. Tampa Bay then returns home on Thursday, October 10 to open a season-long seven-game home stand that begins with Atlantic Division rival the Florida Panthers.