Structure and order. These are the things that Lightning coach Guy Boucher wants his team to adhere to. He's said many times he doesn't care what the result is as long as the process is correct. He believes if you do the process correctly, good things will happen.
After getting woefully outplayed by the Boston Bruins in the first period, Tampa Bay still found itself with a 2-1 advantage heading into the first intermission. Goals at the beginning and end of the period sandwiched a rare powerplay goal for the Bruins and an 18-11 shot advantage for Boston.
The Bruins were bringing everything they had and Dwayne Roloson stood on his head to keep his team in it.
During the first shift of the second period, Martin St. Louis broke loose on a breakaway but was stoned by Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. The Bruins turned it around and rookie sensation Tyler Seguin broke loose behind the Lightning defense for a score.
A few minutes later, the Lightning had a two-on-one but failed to convert. Moments later, the Bruins had their own two-on-one and scored.
Structure took a back seat.
"It turned into a pond hockey game—period. And when you play a pond hockey game it has a chance to not go your way," Boucher said in his post game press conference televised on NHL Network, "It's your breakaway, it's my breakaway. It's your two-on-one, it's my two-on-one. It might be exciting for the fans but from the team's perspective it's not how we've played and when the other team's that hungry you can't let that happen."
Roloson was abandoned by his defense as the Lightning tried desperately to counter every rush by the Bruins. Five goals allowed got him chased, but none of them could be considered soft goals. His defense, such a strong point in Game 1, left him twisting in the wind in Game 2.
Not being a regular follower of the Boston Bruins, I don't know the history of how Tyler Seguin performed during the regular season. A quick stat check says he managed 11 goals and 22 points, pretty below average for the No. 2 overall selection in the entry draft.
Well, whatever happened to him during the regular season doesn't seem to matter in the playoffs as this kid has been fantastic. He gave the Lightning all they could handle and became the first teenager to score four points in one period in a Stanley Cup playoff game. He was by far the best player the Bruins had to offer against the Lightning defense.
At this point, the Bolts may actually be hoping Patrice Bergeron returns and cuts into the wonderkid's minutes.
When the period came to a close, the Lightning were shaken to a 6-3 deficit.
The Bolts seemed to wave the white flag by inserting Mike Smith to protect Roloson from any more damage.
Perhaps the Bruins felt that way as well, but no one got the memo to the Lightning players. Tampa Bay dominated the third period, out-shooting the Bruins 15-8 and seemed to be coming in waves at Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
In a herculean effort, Thomas made 13 saves (many point blank scoring chances) and helped the Bruins survive the Tampa Bay onslaught.
The Lightning did get goals from Stamkos and Dominic Moore to inch closer at 6-5 but Thomas turned away every chance to get the equalizer.
A terrible goalie interference penalty call on Lightning forward Ryan Malone (he didn't even touch the Bruins netminder) robbed the Bolts of a precious two minutes on the clock and Boston held on for dear life during the chaotic final minutes.
"Like I said, there were opportunities there (for the Lightning to tie the game)," Boucher continued at the press conference, "but as I've said all year long—we don't want to win those (types of) games because it gives you the false sense that you accomplished something when your process wasn't good. They deserved the game and we didn't."
"It's disappointing," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said to the St. Pete Times, "Our pride since the beginning of the year is our system and structure. It (the way they played in game two) wasn't the way it's supposed to be, and that's what we're disappointed in."
The Lightning did get a charge out of their comeback.
"We didn't quit," Forward Steven Stamkos told the St. Pete Times. "We have a lot of character on this team, and we believe in ourselves. We had some chances to tie it. If there is a positive, I guess that's it."
Another positive for the Lightning was an explosion from the big three. Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier had just one point (an assist) between them in Game 1. They roared to life in game two with each netting a goal and the trio finished with 9 total points.
For Tampa Bay, they would have loved to leave Boston with a 2-0 edge, but they achieved their goal of splitting the first two games of the series and stealing home ice.
With three of the next four in front of the rowdy fans at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Lightning just have to find a way to hold serve at home to retake control of the series.
It begins with regaining their structure.