After losing Game 1 on home ice with a rather tepid effort, everyone expected a much more determined outing by the Bruins on Tuesday. What they got was the Tyler Seguin show.
Seguin, 19 and playing just his second playoff game, was only in the lineup due to Patrice Bergeron's continued recovery from a concussion. The teen sensation scored twice and set up two more, all during a five-goal second period for the Bruins. Boston won 6-5, sending the Eastern Conference Final to Tampa with the series tied 1-1.
The Bruins' resolve got an early test when Adam Hall gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead just 13 seconds in. The B's also survived surrendering a goal with 19 seconds remaining in the first. In between, they pelted Dwayne Roloson with 18 shots, counting once on a Nathan Horton power-play goal.
Despite Tampa's late score, the Bruins gained control of the game with three tallies in the first 6:30 of the second period. Vinny Lecavalier tossed in a power-play goal to make it 4-3 in a wild and wide-open 20 minutes, but that was a mere interlude to Seguin's showcase. He led a blitz en route to a 6-3 advantage after 40-minutes.
The Bruins' gaudy goal surge came on only nine shots, and they actually gave up more quality chances, and 15 shots in all, while the puck was flying in the net at the other end.
Tim Thomas stopped three clear-cut breakaways in the second period alone and five overall. So, the Bruins did establish their forecheck -- a point of emphasis coming into Game 2. But it came at a cost. Pressing up proved to be effective, yet it also left Boston vulnerable to quick stretch passes up the middle. The result was there, so the end justified the means, but this game provided plenty of material for both coaches to dissect before Game 3 in Tampa on Thursday night.
The third period alone will give Bruins coach Claude Julien enough footage for multiple meetings. The B's sat back, turned the puck over in the neutral zone and played soft in front of Thomas. None of the up-ice energy they exuded through the first two periods was present.
A Steven Stamkos wrist shot rocketed over the right shoulder of Thomas from 30 feet out. With a little over six minutes left, the Bolts cashed in again, on a chaotic crease scramble, banking the puck off a facemask-less Thomas to cut the lead to 6-5.
Thomas continued to battle. Altering between soft goal and sensational save, his erratic play was the parable for this game in total: less than perfect, energetic and ridiculously entertaining.