BOSTON - Much of the disappointment from Milan Lucic's seven-goal regular season in 2013 was erased by his seven-goal output in 22 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins. However, to fully prove that he's one of the League's premier power forwards, Lucic is going to have to score at last season's playoff pace during the 2013-14 regular season.
Lucic started the season on the right foot Thursday night by scoring the go-ahead goal with one minute remaining in the second period and the Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 at TD Garden in the season-opener for both teams.
The Lightning, who were playing the first of their three-game season-opening road trip, got 22 saves from Anders Lindback. Their task doesn't get any easier: After losing to the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Lightning visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
The Bruins got on the board first at 11:39 of the first period during a penalty kill. Chris Kelly stole the puck from Tampa Bay defenseman Mark Barberio at the red line and had a clear path to the net. Kelly's shot went wide, but he was hooked from behind by Barberio and awarded a penalty shot, the first of his NHL career.
Kelly put the Bruins in front by faking a wrist shot between the hash marks and then sliding a backhander behind an out-of-position Lindback.
Tampa Bay had plenty of opportunities to pull even. The Lightning couldn't solve Rask with 15 first-period shots, including several during a late 5-on-3 power play. The two-man advantage carried over into the early second period and the Bruins continued to keep Tampa Bay off the board.
Boston nearly doubled its lead at 2:06 of the second period, but Jordan Caron's goal off his own rebound in front was immediately waved off. That gave the Lightning the opening they needed to tie the game at 10:32 on free-agent signee Valtteri Filppula's first goal in a Tampa Bay uniform. Defenseman Eric Brewer started the play with an end-to-end rush, including a subtle move to slip a Daniel Paille hip check at the Boston blue line, before sliding the puck across the slot to Filppula, who put it into a half-empty net.
The Bruins regained the lead with 1:00 remaining in the period on a play started and finished by Lucic. He worked the put out of the Bruins' zone and then made a back pass to David Krejci at the Tampa Bay blue line. Krejci carried the puck into the zone and set up Lucic for a snap shot from the left hash mark that went top shelf on Lindback.
After killing off more than a minute of another Tampa Bay 5-on-3 early in the third period, the Bruins extended their lead with a second shorthanded goal, this one while the Lightning had a 4-on-3 skating advantage. This time, Bergeron skated end to end and decided to keep the puck for a shot rather than feet Loui Eriksson on a 2-on-1. With Eriksson driving the net, Bergeron cut to the middle and snapped a shot off Lindback's shoulder and in at 4:02.