x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lightning strike first in Eastern Conference final

Tampa Bay strike for three goals in a wild first minute and half and romp to a 5-2 victory over the Bruins in the best-of-seven series.

Tampa Bay's Sean Bergenheim checks Brad Marchand  of the Bruins in Game One in Boston, Massachusetts.
Tampa Bay's Sean Bergenheim checks Brad Marchand of the Bruins in Game One in Boston, Massachusetts.

BOSTON // The Tampa Bay Lightning struck early and then romped to a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, to draw first blood in the NHL Eastern Conference final and extend their play-off winning streak to eight games.

The victory gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game Two is on Tuesday in Boston.

After sweeping their respective semi-finals, the two teams were well-rested for the series opener.

While the Bruins were sluggish, the Lightning showed no ill-affects from a 10-day layoff as they came out flying scoring three goals in a one minute, 25 seconds span of a wild opening period.

"You can't hope for a better start after being off for 10 days," Tampa's Martin St Louis said. "They came out hard the first three or four minutes, they took the game to us a little bit, but we hung in there and got going."

The game began on a solemn note, as the sold-out arena observed a moment of silence for the New York Rangers' Derek Boogaard, who died suddenly of unknown causes.

Sean Bergenheim, who only had 14 regular season goals, opened the scoring with his league leading eighth of the play-offs and Brett Clark followed 19 seconds later with his first of the post-season flipping a backhand past Bruins netminder Tim Thomas after a brilliant end-to-end rush.

With the crowd reeling, Teddy Purcell pushed the Lightning ahead 3-0 before rookie Tyler Seguin, playing his first NHL play-off game finally got Boston on the scoreboard, the 19-year-old splitting the Tampa defence then beating Dwayne Roloson on his first shot.

After a scoreless second the Lightning struck again in the third, Marc-Andre Bergeron scoring on a powerplay and Simon Gagne adding an empty netter.

The Bruins' Johnny Boychuk added a consolation goal to close out the scoring with just over a minute remaining.

Roloson, a late season pickup by the Lightning, continued his strong play in the Tampa net as the 41-year-old veteran handled 33 shots, the same as Thomas.

"Coming out we knew we were going to have to play patient and that they were going to come out hard," said Roloson. "It's that the old cliche of weathering the storm.

"That's what we tried to do, stay in our system and try to play solid defence."