TAMPA (AP) – The Tampa Bay Lightning opened Game 1 against Boston on shaky ice, fumbling away pucks, turning it over in their own end, giving up a pair of early goals.
Tampa Bay seemed to get better as the game went along and Victor Hedman cashed in with a pair of third-period goals, but the push came too late. Boston held on for a testy 3-2 win.
No question what the Lightning need to do better in Game 2 Tuesday night in Toronto.
“We just kind of waited to see what the tone of the game was going to be like and we waited just a bit too long to be able to recover from it,” Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “Certainly wasn’t the case going into the second half of that game where I think we started to find our game and realize what it takes to be successful against Boston. I don’t envision our start being an issue going into Game 2.”
Coming off a 4-1 series win over Carolina, Boston had the early jump against Tampa Bay in the opener, scoring two goals by early in the second period while building a 3-0 lead.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak was sharp in his fourth start since No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask, a Vezina Trophy finalist, opted out for the remainder of the playoffs to be with his family. The 35-year-old Halak stopped 35 shots and the two goals he gave up deflected in off Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy.
The reigning Eastern Conference champions withstood Tampa Bay’s late push to win the opener, but they know the high-scoring Lightning will likely be buzzing to start Game 2 (7 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network).
“Game 1 is not going to dictate the whole series, typically,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, “It’s great if we go out there and put together three periods like our first period, but they had push back as the game went on. I thought they competed hard last night, maybe not from the first whistle they weren’t as ready as we were. That happens to teams.”