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Turco stumbles in his first start

New arrival shows jitters

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / March 14, 2012
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TAMPA - Marty Turco, whose most recent starts in net were within yodeling distance of the Austrian Alps, returned to starting NHL duty here Tuesday night with the Bruins at the edge of Florida’s west coast.

“Time for him to come in and help us out,’’ said Boston coach Claude Julien, his battered bunch trying to escape a two-game losing run. “He’s in decent form, and I like his competitiveness. He has to step up for us tonight and help us win a hockey game.’’

Turco stepped up, but he fell down badly, allowing three goals on the first six Lightning shots and exiting after logging only 4:31 in net. Tim Thomas took over and allowed a Victor Hedman power-play strike late in the period for a 4-0 Bolts lead at the intermission.

Turco, 36 years old and with 273 NHL wins on his résumé, was added to the Boston roster roughly a week after the trade deadline expired Feb. 27. An unrestricted free agent after spending last season with the Blackhawks, he headed overseas after getting no NHL takers and had just finished his season in Salzburg, Austria, when Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli came calling.

“It was fast,’’ said Turco. “My season ended there on a Thursday and the call came Saturday.’’

No telling if Turco, who returned to the net in the second period Tuesday night, will get another start in Black-and-Gold, although Julien almost has no choice but to use him again. Tuukka Rask (groin) won’t be ready for weeks and Anton Khudobin, their best puck-stopper in Providence, has a wrist injury and isn’t expected to be ship shape until the end of the month.

Turco’s start, following his two-period relief appearance (22 shots/20 saves) Sunday in Pittsburgh, came at a time when Thomas clearly needed a rest after making five straight starts. Thomas, the two-time Vezina winner (’09, ’11) gave up two early goals in Pittsburgh, the second straight game he found himself behind by a pair of goals in the first period. It was 3-0 when Turco entered to start the second period. It was the same score here when Thomas took the baton some 48 hours later.

“To say that I’m excited,’’ said Turco, asked how he felt before his first Boston start, “is a pretty good understatement.’’

Maybe the veteran fell prey to some jitters. He looked bad on the Bolts’ second strike, with 2:26 gone, when he failed to cover a loose puck at the left post. A second or two later, ex-Boston prospect Nate Thompson banged home the 2-0 lead.

Turco spent nine seasons with the Stars after spending two seasons in the minors upon graduating from the University of Michigan in ’98. He never won the Cup in Dallas, and he doesn’t have a Vezina Trophy, but if he’s on his game he can provide critical relief for the Bruins with Thomas tired and Rask injured. But he’ll have to look far better than he looked here.

“Just trust myself,’’ said Turco, asked his mind-set going into Tuesday night’s action. “Have the confidence in my ability to go out there and do the job. The goalie’s job is wait there and have them come to you, and when they get there you have to have the mind-set that, ‘Whatever you [shooter] can do, I can do better.’ ’’

Few goalies in recent years have been better than Thomas. He was the difference-maker last spring when the Bruins snapped their 39-year drought and won their first Cup since 1972.

With Rask on the mend, though, Thomas, who will turn 38 next month, has begun wearing down under the late-season grind.

Bergeron back

Patrice Bergeron, who sustained a lower-body injury Sunday in Pittsburgh, where he exited for good after one brief shift in the third period, was back in the lineup. He skated between Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron.

Adam McQuaid, felled by an upper-body injury in Pittsburgh, needed another game off skates. He skated in the morning workout and was expected to go again in the warmup, but the hulking backliner was given the night off.

Daniel Paille, who had missed five games with a an undisclosed injury, was back in uniform. He skated with Chris Kelly and Brian Rolston. Kelly had one of Boston’s two shots in the first period. Callup Trent Whitfield had the other.

Boston’s defense pairings with McQuaid out: Dennis Seidenberg-Zdeno Chara; Greg Zanon-Joe Corvo and Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk.

Hot at the dot

In one of the few Boston positives of the night, Bergeron won 20 of his 27 faceoffs. Asked if he considered resting Bergeron when the score reached 5-0, Julien said, “No, not really an issue, because the kind of injury he has doesn’t require rest. He’s fine.’’ . . . Boston’s top line of David Krejci centering Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin finished with seven shots and no points . . . Jordan Caron scored Boston’s lone goal, tipping in a Boychuk wrister with 1:55 gone in the third . . . Redux Bruin Rolston led all Boston shooters with six shots on net . . . Lucic landed five hits, a game high. Tampa’s Brian Lee was next with four . . . Steven Stamkos, the scoring machine (169 goals in four NHL seasons), logged 18:02 in ice time. He’s one of the few NHLers who feels like a threat every time he hops over the boards - not unlike the now mellow Alex Ovechkin in his heyday . . . Rough night for Seguin and Ference, each logging a minus-4. Lucic, Krejci, and Boychuk chipped in with minus-3s . . . The Bolts finished with a 6-1 win but get outshot, 34-17.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.

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