BOSTON – A historic outburst for the unlikeliest of sources turned the Eastern Conference Finals on its head Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin, in just his second playoff game, scored four points in the second period – including two beautiful goals and an assist on Michael Ryder's game-winning goal – as Boston took a 6-5 decision from Tampa Bay in Game 2 to even up this best-of-7 series.
"A very uncharacteristic game for both teams really," said Boston forward Mark Recchi, who is 24 years Seguin's senior.
No teenager had tallied 4 points in a game since Vancouver's Trevor Linden reached that number against Calgary in 1989.
"I felt more confident, more poised, and in big games I always want to step up," said Seguin, who had just 11 goals and 22 points in the regular season. "Tonight I had some lucky bounces, but I was trying to take advantage of all opportunities, and they were going in tonight."
It was a wacky night all around.
The Lightning, who had won eight straight games, including a dominating 5-2 win in Saturday's Game 1, hadn't allowed more than three playoff goals in its first dozen playoff games. Yet, Boston had four goals in less than 27 minutes and Seguin had 4 points before the game was even 40 minutes old.
Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had a League-best 2.04 goals-against average heading into the game, allowed 6 goals on 27 shots and was pulled after two periods.
Yet, that offensive barrage by Boston almost wasn't enough as the Bruins nearly frittered away a three-goal lead in the final 20 minutes.
"Just trying to hold on and rope-a-dope them, I guess," Boston center Chris Kelly said, planting tongue firmly in cheek. "I thought (the Lightning) did a good job of pressing and sticking with it."
In fact, Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who finished with 36 saves, had to make huge saves against Vincent Lecavalier and Marc-Andre Bergeron in the final few minutes to preserve what should have been an easy victory.
"I mean, we didn't play the way, especially in that second period … we didn't play the way we usually do with our structure," Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "I don't want to take credit away from the Bruins. I thought they came out flying in the first and second. We had a lot of chances in the third. Giving up five goals in that second period was tough. It seems every time we had a good chance, it would just come back. I think we just gave them a lot in the second."
No matter how many crazy things happened Tuesday night, nothing could top the night Seguin had for himself with the Bruins postseason essentially hanging in the balance.
Not good enough to play in any of Boston's first 10 playoff games, Seguin only cracked the lineup when No. 2 center Patrice Bergeron suffered a concussion in Game 4 of the sweep of Philadelphia in the last round.
At that point, coach Claude Julien had no choice but to turn to the 19-year-old Seguin. But, Julien kept the young winger on a short leash in Game 1, even after Seguin scored his first playoff goal on his first shot in Saturday's game. He gave Seguin just two shifts in the second period of Game 1.
But, there was no holding Seguin back in Game 2.
On his first shift of the second period, Seguin took an outlet pass from Michael Ryder and split the Tampa defense before making a slick stickhandling move to catch Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson leaning. That goal, just 48 seconds into the period, tied the score at 2-2 and erased a disastrous first period that saw Boston give up goals in the first and last minute of the frame.
Then, after David Krejci gave Boston the lead, Seguin scored on a 2-on-1 with Nathan Horton at the 6:30 mark of the period for his second goal in less than six minutes. Before he was done, he would add a pair of assists on Ryder's two goals in the period's final three-plus minutes.
It was a magical performance that had the crowd chanting Seguin's name and had the players on the Boston bench caught up in the moment.
"It puts a smile on your face at a time when you are so focused, so into the game that it is tough to smile at times," linemate Chris Kelly said. "I was real excited for him to go out there and perform the way he did."
Even the Lightning were a bit caught up by the show the rookie put on against them.
"I think it was his first goal, he went up the ice, just flying, and that was a nice goal," said Lecavalier, who had a goal and 3 assists for the visitors. "He was skating hard. He is a great skater. He is a smart player. The first two games for him have been great. We definitely have to keep an eye on him and make sure the structure we play is better and not give those chances."
Tampa Bay will get a chance to improve its structure in Thursday's Game 3, which is also when Boston finds out if Seguin can continue to be a game-changer in this series.