They scored and scored, then they scored again. The goals rained down like a storm on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period as the team with the weakest offense in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, built a 5-0 lead on the home team.
To their credit, the Lightning came roaring back, scoring the next four goals to give a little drama to the end of this one, but by triple zeros they fell one goal too short.
It was a stunning end to the hot streak of Antero Niittymaki and the Bolts, winners of four straight. Tampa Bay seemed to lose steam after out shooting the Bruins 7-0 in the first five minutes of the contest and then watched as the Bruins peppered Niittymaki with 21 shots, most of them terrific scoring chances.
None of the goals given up by the Bolts net minder were his fault, each resulting in terrific passing plays by Boston and poor defense on the Lightning's part.
After Tuesday night's 3-1 win over Vancouver, coach Rick Tocchet described Tampa Bay's play as putting a finger in the dike and hoping it didn't burst. Well, the dam certainly broke for the Bolts in this one.
"The first seven minutes, I thought we were playing well," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet told reporters, "Then it just kind of snowballed. We got all discombobulated."
"We started running around," defenseman Mattias Ohlund added. "Our game is very good when it is structurally right. But we got into some really bad habits."
By the end of the first, Niittymaki was pulled for Mike Smith, not really because he was playing poorly but because the way the Lightning were playing in front of him was unfair.
It seemed to spark the team. After giving up a deflected goal to make it 5-0, the Lightning came roaring back with two second period goals by Martin St. Louis and two third period goals by Steve Downie while out shooting the Bruins 22-15.
"You can't play a half of a game and expect it to be good enough, especially against a team like that that is battling us for a playoff spot," St. Louis told the Tampa Tribune.
The loss hurt Tampa Bay in the standings, tumbling them to 9th overall while being tied in points with Philadelphia and Boston, who own the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
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