By John Bishop, BostonBruins.com
On Saturday night the Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, in an exciting, well played contest that featured some outstanding goaltending and saw both teams play sound two-way hockey throughout.
The Bruins came out firing against Tampa Bay, as Boston hoped to negate an infinitely forgettable opening night loss to the Lightning's cross state cousin, the Florida Panthers, and even their record at 1-1-0.
Boston netminder, Hannu Toivonen, who started his first game of the young campaign, looked sharp early and thanks to the young Finn, it was the Bruins and not the Lightning, who brought the thunder to the St. Pete Times Forum in Boston's second outing.
Wayne Primeau scored his second goal of the season at 5:24, thanks in part to a nifty play by the Bruins Shean Donovan and captain Zdeno Chara
, who earned his third assist of the year.
Brad Boyes scored at 13:19, again with help from Chara (earning his fourth assist), who took a one handed feed from Phil Kessel who earned himself his first NHL point in just his second professional game.
However, it was the charged-up Lightning who crashed the net early in the second period.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored at 2:19 with help from Vinny Lecavalier, as the Lightning beat Toivonen with a shot from the goalies left, off his pad, and into the net.
Toivonen rebounded from the goal nicely, weathering a storm of Lightning strikes, while his opposite number, Tampa Bay goaltender Marc Denis, did his best to soothe the savage Bruins attack.
Both Denis and Toivonen stymied the opposition, often with some brilliant puck stopping, throughout the second stanza, until Ryan Craig scored for the Lightning, evening the score at 2-2, off a feed from Filip Kuba.Patrice Bergeron
turned the tide in Boston's favor for good very early in the third period, scoring his first marker of the year in beautiful fashion, taking a pass from Brad Boyes, knifing through the Tampa Bay defense and roofing the puck over Denis to make the score 3-2.
The Bruins' defensive strategies kicked in during the second half of the third period and were instrumental in allowing Toivonen to shut the door, while the Lightning's Denis made life frustrating for the Bruins forwards as well.
Denis made 22 saves on the evening, and was most spectacular when he stymied Primeau's break-away attempt for a second goal, via two point blank saves, with just over seven minutes remaining in the third.
But it was Toivonen who emerged from the game victorious, thanks to his own 29 saves, as Tampa Bay was unable to score with Denis pulled during the last 100 seconds of the contest.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to the guys," said Toivonen post game. "I thought they did a tremendous job blocking the shots, making my life a lot easier out there. And I think [the team] played a full sixty minutes"
"I thought everyone paid attention to detail," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "They were aggressive, they were physical, and they paid the price to make plays. And that is what you have to do to win in this league."
Boston traveled home after the game for a couple of days of practice in Boston before heading to Atlanta for their third game of the season on Wednesday (7:00 NESN).