TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were in a seven-game skid and had not yet found the win column in 2012 heading into Tuesday night's game with the Boston Bruins, a powerful opponent with a 13-5-0 road record.
Even Lightning coach Guy Boucher had characterized it as "a formidable task."
But just before the Lightning took the ice, veteran Martin St. Louis stood up to address the team. Reportedly, he told them that things can turn on a single game, or a single moment. He told them to forget the past and the future and play hard now.
"We know that's what it's about -- just being able to switch it from the negative to the positive," Boucher said after the Lightning's 5-3 win at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "Any moment, any second, you can turn things around. Marty's point was that we just have to focus on the opportunity ahead of us. That's what it was. Marty's a terrific leader and I was very pleased about it."
And that's exactly what the Lightning did, as Vincent Lecavalier broke a scoreless tie at 7:11 of the opening period. Lecavalier's score, his 18th of the season off a scramble in front of Tim Thomas, gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead. It had been five games since Tampa Bay had opened a game with the first goal.
"When the puck dropped, we had emotion," Boucher said. "I didn't care about the score; I want to fight. It's never for me about the score. When they score, that's what gets you anxiety and it gets you thinking ahead of the moment and the whole point is to be in the moment."
For Bruins coach Claude Julien, the loss was simply a matter of lack of effort from his club.
"I would say it was our work ethic," Julien said. "Our compete level isn't there. We're no better and no worse than any other team when we don't compete. We become a very ordinary team, and that's what we are right now."
The Bruins (29-13-1), playing the back-end of a two game Florida road trip, battled back to tie the game three times before Dominic Moore got the eventual game-winner, a long slap pshot past Thomas. Ryan Malone had scored his 10th goal of the season earlier in the third off a goal-mouth scramble and Steven Stamkos put the finishing touches on the win with an empty-netter -- his League-leading 31st -- with just 21 seconds remaining.
Tom Pyatt also scored for the Lightning, his fifth goal of the season. The goal exceeded Pyatt's career-total of 4 goals prior to this season.
Nathan Horton had the first two goals for Boston, his 15th and 16th of the season and Daniel Paille scored his eighth, a shorthanded breakaway goal in the third. Paille's goal was the seventh shorthanded goal that Tampa Bay has allowed this season. Only one team -- New Jersey -- has allowed more.
Both teams struggled on the power play. Boston was 0-for-3 and is now 2-for-22 over its last six games. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 and has converted only twice in its last 27 opportunities.
Tampa Bay (18-23-4) began the game skating shorthanded after Bruno Gervais was called for a high-sticking penalty at 1:58 of the first period, a situation that had plagued them during their losing streak.
Did Boucher expect the worst?
"Yes, but if I'm asking my players to put things behind, then we have to put things behind too as leaders," Boucher said. "Right away I said, 'We're gonna kill this one.' And we're going to fight it out and block shots and we kept on talking about what we’re going to do, not what can happen against us. And then we did. It's all about the actions. Your words become your actions and your actions become your character, and your character becomes your habits, so it's important we take care of our words."
Mathieu Garon stopped 26 shots and earned his 12th win of the season, while Thomas allowed four goals on 30 shots.
"The Lightning didn't look like a team with seven losses in a row," Thomas said. "We looked like that."
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 TBL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 TBL
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 TBL