Errors prove costly as charged-up Lightning deliver a jolt to Bruins
Harmless play, right? Dennis Seidenberg carries the puck out of his own zone, gains the red line, chips the puck into the offensive zone, and goes off for a change.
Not last night.
“Definitely in the first period, way too many turnovers, me included,’’ Seidenberg said. “Getting pucks deep at the blue lines, we were too soft. They batted them down. They used the chances they had perfectly. They had 18 and they scored five goals. Too many little breakdowns at the beginning.’’
In a sequence that captured the error-filled nature of last night’s 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay before 17,565 at TD Garden, Seidenberg couldn’t get the puck deep enough with his chip. At the same time, Mark Stuart, anticipating a deeper dump-in, went to the bench. Victor Hedman, standing up at his blue line, picked off Seidenberg’s chip and sent the puck up for Vincent Lecavalier.
Seidenberg and Michael Ryder were caught up the ice. Zdeno Chara, who had changed with Stuart, sprinted to catch up. With the numbers on their side, the Lightning pulled off a bang-bang play that saw Martin St. Louis drive to the net while Lecavalier lugged the puck down the left wing.
Flip went the pass from Lecavalier to St. Louis. Tap went the puck off St. Louis’s stick and past Tuukka Rask at 18:05 of the first, giving the Lightning a 2-0 cushion.
It was that kind of night.
“Those are the kinds of things that, right now, are extremely costly,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team put 50 shots on Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki. “When you’re battling for your lives, those things can’t happen.’’
With 27 seconds remaining in the first, Chara trimmed Tampa’s lead to 2-1 when he scored a four-on-four goal.
But the Bruins gave the two-goal lead back to the Lightning in the second period. First, Rask stopped a dump-in behind his net for Johnny Boychuk, who reversed the puck to Andrew Ference. But Ference couldn’t handle the puck, which popped out to Paul Szczechura in the slot. Boychuk scrambled from behind the net to get in front, but he caught his skate in the ice and fell. As Boychuk fell forward, Szczechura’s shot popped off the defenseman’s shoulder and past Rask at 6:50.
“Somebody pushed him and he toe-picked,’’ said Rask, who made only 13 saves. “It hit his chest and went in. Tough luck, but that happens.’’
Boychuk redeemed himself after slipping a shot through Niittymaki at 10:42 of the second, pulling the Bruins within a goal once more.
But the Lightning scored a gut punch with a power-play strike late in the second that served as the winning goal.
Blake Wheeler was whistled for an interference penalty in the offensive zone at 17:54 when he kept Steven Stamkos from getting to his skates. At the other end, the Bruins knew that Stamkos, the league leader in power-play points, likes to set up on the left side for one-timers.
The Boston penalty-killers saw the play develop but couldn’t prevent Kurtis Foster, standing at the right point, from shuttling a cross-ice pass to Stamkos. Rask shifted from left to right, but with the puck in Stamkos’s wheelhouse, the second-year pro hammered a one-timer that beat the Boston netminder at 19:34, giving the Lightning a 4-2 edge.
“We gave him all those chances, which makes him dynamic,’’ Seidenberg said. “If we don’t have those turnovers, he doesn’t get those chances. But when he does get them, he knows how to bury them. That’s what it is.’’
It was Stamkos’s second of the night and 45th of the season. Stamkos netted his first in the opening minute when he slipped behind Stuart and tapped a Steve Downie feed past Rask at 0:49. Replay showed that Stamkos was offside.
“The first two goals, one could have been offside,’’ Boychuk said. “But they just capitalized on every chance that they did have.’’
The Bruins, down, 5-2, in the third, kicked off a rally when Mark Recchi swept home the rebound of a Seidenberg shot. The Lightning gave the Bruins some late life when they were called for too many men at 17:53, which prompted Julien to pull Rask for an extra skater.
But Niittymaki (47 saves) was at his best when his team needed him the most. He made point-blank stops on Recchi, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic to seal his team’s win.
The Bruins remain in eighth place, 2 points behind seventh-place Philadelphia (the Flyers lost in overtime last night to Minnesota) and 2 ahead of the ninth-place Thrashers, who lost to Toronto in overtime.
“Right now, our concern is that we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game,’’ said Julien. “The next hockey game happens to be in your home building, where we’ve got to be better as well.’’