NEW YORK -- It wasn't the start Brian Boyle wanted in his return to the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning, taking a penalty on his first shift, but he had a positive impact in their 6-2 win against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
Boyle, who played in all 82 regular-season games and 13 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before missing Game 1 on Saturday with an undisclosed injury, played 10:39 and won four of five faceoffs.
The former Rangers forward was a plus-1 with one shot and three hits and was a grinder and physical presence for the Lightning.
"Big boost for us," coach Jon Cooper said. "[Boyle] hasn't played, he hasn't skated much, so it took him a little bit to get his legs going. … I felt awful for him his first shift, he gets on there for five seconds and takes a penalty, but he makes us a little bit taller."
Boyle, who skated on a line with Brenden Morrow and J.T. Brown, is usually on the penalty kill but played 39 seconds of the Lightning's 6:03 total while shorthanded because Cooper didn't want him to overexert himself.
"That line can grind and wear you out, and he didn't get out there a ton because there were so many penalties, and usually he is killing them for us, but it's hard to kill when he's in the box," Cooper said. "Didn't want to rush him and play him a bunch of minutes. …He got stronger as the game went on, but we need Brian Boyle in the lineup. He's a huge part of our success."