Boston, MA -- The Bruins fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night in the TD Banknorth Garden. Jeff Halpern, Andreas Karlsson and Vincent Lecavalier all scored for the Lightning, while Chuck Kobasew added the lone Boston tally.
"You can't let yourself get beyond frustrated," said B's head coach Claude Julien after the loss. "Hopefully that one goal will help us get a little confidence [in terms of scoring] and the third period, I thought, was a real good period for us.
"Unfortunately...when you don't score goals, every little mistake you make becomes a lot bigger than it should be."
The Bruins, previously 4-1-1 in their last six games on home ice, drew the Lightning as the Boston club entered its last dozen contests of the season. The game against the Bolts was also part of a 17-day span, which will eventually see the B's play 10 crucial games.
As such, all-star Goalie Tim Thomas returned to the pipes for Boston. The former UVM Catamount was tested only once in the first three minutes because his teammates controlled most of the play.
"I was just trying to bear down and concentrate as hard as I could," said Thomas, who certainly acquitted himself well and added that he wanted "to put in a good performance and get back on track."
But Tampa goalie Mike Smith also kept the Bruins scoreless by remaining calm and square to the puck as the Boston attack intensified.
The Bruins remained on the prowl and Phil Kessel forced Brown to make a terrific scoop stop of a loose puck at 5:20 and then the Bolts backup stopped the B's Glen Metropolit at 6:29.
At 7:26 Thomas needed to be sharp on the Lightnings second shot when Vincent Lecavalier (playing in his 700 game after scoring a hat trick in his 699th) let one loose on a breakaway.
With a Bruin in the box, Jeff Halpern beat Thomas on a power play redirection at 7:41. Tampa threatened again at 11:40, but the B's goalie covered the puck during a scrum in front of his net and then made scrambling stops at 12:03 and 13:50.
Both backstops stayed strong, particularly when Nick Tarnasky challenged Thomas late in the period. Then, Boston went on the power play at 18:09, and Smith kept the B's out of the net and sent his team to the locker room up, 1-0.
"It was a key time of the game," said Thomas. "I would like to have made the save, but it was a pretty good move too."
The Bruins came out of the break looking to raise their hit total and tie the score early. They peppered Smith with shots (6) in the first four minutes of the second period.
However, it was Tampa's Karlsson who garnered a penalty shot style breakaway and beat Thomas with a nifty move at 7:43 to make the score 2-0 Lightning.
Shortly thereafter, Kessel was stopped on a nearly identical opportunity just before the nine-minute mark as Smith continued his excellent play.
Karl Stewart went to the Lightning penalty box at 9:32, but the man advantage went for naught.
In a repeat of the initial stanza, both goalies made some above average saves, until Thomas made a huge save off a one timer by another former Catamout, Martin St. Louis, at 16:59.
Tampa Bay and Boston then traded chances throughout the last four minutes, but the score remained 2-0 Lightning.
The Bolts flew out of their locker room and sought to strike early in the third in order to put the B's down for good. But neither team garnered complete domination of the period during its first 8 minutes -- that is until Chuck Kobasew deflected a puck by Smith and, after a short review, put the B's just one goal down.
A power play at 12:17 gave Boston an opportunity to tie up the contest, but Smith and the Tampa defense kept their net clean.
The Bruins continued to apply consistent pressure, but were unable to complete the comeback.
Tampa's Lecavalier scored an empty net goal to make the final 3-1.
"We are in a frustrating time right now," said B's defenseman Dennis Wideman. "Last week we had a couple of games where we didn't deserve to win, but tonight we played well, we played hard...But we couldn't get the puck in.
"We are not capitalizing."
"We are not worried," added Boston's Aaron Ward after the game. "As a group we are still cohesive.
"We've proven it in the past...and we are not a team that gives up."
1 - 0 TBL
2 - 0 TBL
2 - 1 TBL
Martin St. Louis