BOSTON - Despite posting 36 shots on goal and a number of solid scoring chances on Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning were unable to break their string of tough luck against the Boston Bruins. Riding strong goaltending from Tim Thomas and two goals by Marco Sturm, the Bruins took their home opener against the Lightning, 4-1.
Closing out a two-game road trip, Tampa Bay met Boston for the first of four meetings between the two teams.
Peter Schaefer opened the scoring for the Bruins early in the first period. From the right side boards at the blue line, defenseman Andrew Ference fired a shot towards goaltender Johan Holmqvist. As Schaefer looked to gain position towards the front of the net, the puck deflected off the skate of the Bruins forward and between Holmqvist’s legs.
Shortly after the opening goal the Lightning looked to tie the game, but Thomas stood tall for the Bruins. Vaclav Prospal passed the puck from below the goal line to Vincent Lecavalier at the right faceoff circle. Lecavalier fired a quick shot, but Thomas covered the puck on the play.
Holmqvist responded with a strong save for Tampa Bay, denying Glen Murray from in close. Murray fired a wrist shot on Holmqvist from a few feet out of the crease, but Holmqvist closed his legs to stop the five-hole attempt.
Despite the save against, the Bruins carried a 2-0 lead into the second after Sturm connected with 10 seconds remaining in the first. After Ference made a pass ahead to Sturm in the right faceoff circle, the Boston winger fired a puck through a screen for his first goal of the night.
Tampa Bay opened the second period and quickly cut the Bruins lead in half, 2-1. Scoring at 1:45 of the frame, Brad Richards notched his third goal of the season.
Kicking off the play, defenseman Mike Lundin dumped the puck into the zone from the point. The Bruins’ Dennis Wideman deflected the shot high out of the air, sending the puck towards Richards at the left side of the net. Richards settled the puck and flicked a shot through the five-hole for the score.
With the lone assist on the goal, Lundin recorded his first NHL point. Last season, his fourth and final year with the University of Maine, Lundin ranked second on the Black Bears in scoring by a defenseman with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) through 40 games.
Shortly after the goal, Tampa Bay looked to tie the score as they played with the man advantage. With David Krejci in the box for holding, Filip Kuba fired a slapshot from the left point. The shot found its way through traffic as Chris Gratton created a screen and aimed for the deflection, but Thomas smothered the attempt.
Later in the contest Thomas would get some help from his goalposts, denying Lecavalier on a pair of strong attempts. After Prospal collected the puck off a rebound at the front of the net, he pushed the puck back to Lecavalier at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Lecavalier’s shot beat Thomas but rang off the post for the save.
Prospal would later dish the puck down to Martin St. Louis at the top of the crease where the Tampa Bay winger would move the puck over to Lecavalier. Once again, Lecavalier fired a hard shot towards the Bruins net but Thomas got a piece of the puck on the play.
Lecavalier led the Lightning in scoring against the Bruins last season, recording eight points (one goal, seven assists) through four games played.
Despite the attempt, Boston connected midway through the third period to build a two-goal lead. After carrying the puck into the zone Savard made a cross-zone feed to Mark Stuart. Stuart fired a shot that beat Holmqvist to the stick side for his first goal of the season.
As the Lightning continued putting pressure on the Bruins through the period Shane O’Brien saw a strong shot caught by Thomas. The Tampa Bay blue-liner fired a slapshot through traffic, but Thomas gloved the shot to keep his team in the lead, 3-1.
Sturm went on to close out the scoring with his second goal in the contest. Feeding a pass through the crease and under Holmqvist’s out-stretched stick, Patrice Bergeron found Sturm at the side of the net. Sturm popped the shot to the right of Holmqvist for the score.
Both Bergeron and Ference finished the contest with two assists for the Bruins.
Tampa Bay out-shot Boston 36-23 in the contest. With 35 saves, Thomas earned his third career victory against the Lightning. The Bruins netminder entered the contest with a league-leading 1.34 goals-against average through three starts this season.
Lecavalier led all skaters with five shots in the game, while five different players posted four shots each for Tampa.
Aside from two early fighting majors to Nick Tarnasky and Andre Roy, Tampa Bay played through 60 minutes with no minor penalties against. The Lightning went 0-for-2 with the man advantage in the contest.
Tampa Bay returns to the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday, October 20 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) for a matchup against the Atlanta Thrashers. The game marks the second meeting between the clubs at Tampa Bay this season as the Lightning look to remain undefeated on home ice.
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