When the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against each other on Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at the TD Garden in front of a sellout crowd of 17,565, it was evident that both teams were feeling each other out.
Three costly mistakes led to Lightning strikes within a span of 85 seconds, and the Bruins were unable to climb all the way back.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who had dropped is stick in a collision behind the goal with Steve Downie, kicked the puck right to Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim, who took the gift and put it into the open net for a 1-0 lead. For Bergenheim, it was his league-leading eighth goal of the playoffs.
On the very next shift, Brett Clark started a rush for the Lightning, blew by three Bruin defenders (Rich Peverly, Michael Ryder and Andrew Ference) and flipped a sharp-angle backhander through the pads of goalie Tim Thomas for a 2-0 lead.
Then, to add to good measure, right after a TV timeout, the Lightning took advantage again. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle received an ill-advised pass from Seidenberg, and as he was trying to wheel around the net, lost the puck. Teddy Purcell pounced on it, and before Thomas could react, Purcell jammed it in short-side for a 3-0 lead.
Three huge mistakes by the Bruins defense, at least one puck that should have been stopped by Thomas, and the Bruins were behind the eight-ball just like that.
Bruins coach Claude Julien knows that type of play cannot continue if the Bruins are going to advance.
“Those things were uncharacteristic of our hockey club,” Julien told the Boston Globe. “Of the first three goals, I don’t feel there was a good goal out of all of those things. A blind backhand from a tough angle. We lose a puck beside our net. Is it really something that they did so well that created that? No. I think it’s more about us. Give them credit for pouncing on those opportunities and capitalizing on them. That’s part of the game. But you’ve got to look at your team and say, ‘What can you do better?’ We have to make sure we’re a little better with our puck management. That wasn’t there tonight.’’
So, the Lightning now have the advantage, having won in Boston’ building. The Bruins will need to counter-strike quickly on Tuesday night.
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