BOSTON – Tyler Seguin's playoff debut was a roller-coaster ride for him that won't soon be forgotten.
A healthy scratch for the first two rounds of the playoffs, Boston's prized rookie – the No. 2 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft – finally cracked the lineup when Patrice Bergeron was unable to play because of a concussion he suffered eight days ago in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia.
Saturday's Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning – a 5-2 loss at TD Garden -- started with a slow climb for Seguin, like any good roller-coaster ride should.
He got his first shift under his belt, playing the right wing with center Rich Peverley and left wing Michael Ryder. He was feeling good, enjoying the ride and the suspense of what lay ahead.
That is until the bottom fell out, sending Seguin hurtling into the abyss, his stomach in his throat.
And, it came on just his second shift of the game. It started well, but then he messed up. He fumbled a puck at the defensive blue line, right in front of the Boston bench that sent Tampa Bay into the attacking zone with numbers. Before Seguin could atone, the puck was in the back of the net and the Lightning had a lead they would never relinquish.
"I was pretty excited kind of running around a bit that I shouldn't have been," Seguin said. "I should have been doing a little more of a stop-and-starts."
But the descent was still picking up speed. Coach Claude Julien left Seguin's line out there only to see it get victimized again 19 seconds later, this time on a rush by Brett Clark that saw the Tampa Bay forward start inside his own blue line and reach the bottom of Boston's faceoff circle without being effectively challenged by any of the Bruins on the ice. A nifty backhand to finish the play made it 2-0.
Before Seguin could even get his breath on the bench, though, it was 3-0. The next line turned the puck over as well and this time Teddy Purcell banged home a goal. That would be three goals in an 85-second time span; an outburst from which Boston would not recover.
"Three goals in the first period, that's not our style," Seguin said. "That's not Bruins hockey so that's something we're going to fix for next game."
Now at rock bottom on the thrill ride, Seguin had nowhere to go but up. Fortunately, the climb started almost immediately.
A little more than three minutes after Purcell scored, Seguin put the Bruins on the board, using his speed and quick hands to split the Tampa Bay defense, make Mike Lundin look silly and beat goalie Dwayne Roloson to the far post.
"Rydes gave me a great pass and I remember just going underneath the guy's stick and taking it wide and trying to cut to the net, which is something I've been trying to work on with this off time," Seguin said. "Luckily, it worked out."
Just like that, Seguin had forgotten the unsettling plummet, instead focused on his first playoff goal in his first postseason game.
"Definitely a bit of a relief," he said of the goal. "I think coming in the first period, I was definitely very excited. I found myself running around just a little bit just because I had so much legs, I guess. After I had that goal, it was a bit of a sigh of relief and I could be more poised out there."
Except he didn't get a chance for a while as the game degenerated into special teams' play in the second period. Seguin only saw two uneventful shifts.
Come the third period, however, he was back on the climb, getting a regular shift and even being promoted to the second line for a few shifts.
"He had a good game," said Julien. "I thought when he had his chance, we took advantage of it and scored and obviously he had a lot of energy tonight and excitement in his game, so he was a good player for us."
Late in the game, he even assisted on the goal by Chris Kelly that made it 5-2 to finish Saturday's ride with a final rush of adrenaline.
A two-point night in his playoff debut for a ride he won't soon forget.
"It's tough, especially my second shift they scored two quick ones on us," Seguin said. "It's definitely was an adjustment just coming in this tempo and I popped that first goal and it was a bit of a relief and I got more adjusted and more confident, more poised there I felt. And then the third period I ended up playing a bit more and tried to keep that consistency."
Now, with a taste of the thrill ride, he is ready to take the roller-coaster again in Tuesday night's Game 2.
"Right now I'm just thinking about if I get the opportunity, I'm just trying to contribute as much as I can and try to put up results up for the boys and try to get wins," he said.