BOSTON - - Much of the disappointment from Milan Lucic's seven-goal regular season in 2013 was erased by his seven-goal output in 22 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins . But to fully prove that he's one of the League's premier power forwards, Lucic is going to have to score at last spring's pace during the 2013-14 regular season.
Lucic started the new season on the right foot Thursday night by scoring the go-ahead goal with one minute remaining in the second period and the Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 at TD Garden in the season-opener for both teams.
Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly also scored for the Bruins.
Lucic's snap shot from the left hash mark that beat Tampa Bay goaltender Anders Lindback high to put Boston ahead 2-1 was the perfect example of a shot Lucic needed to take more of during his slump in 2013.
"I think when you're in a slump you start thinking too much and you start [second-] guessing yourself," Lucic said after the win. "It was one of those things that hopefully give you confidence right off the bat and you build off of it."
Tuukka Rask, who was rewarded for his breakout season in 2013 with an eight-year, $7 million contract extension during the summer, picked up right where he left off last season. He stopped 32 of 33 shots.
"I made some saves but I didn't necessarily feel really good. I mean I think everybody looked a little tired," Rask said. "We didn't have our legs and mentally we weren't as sharp as usual. But it was a good win."
The Lightning, who were playing the first of their three-game season-opening road trip, got 22 saves fromLindback. Their task doesn't get any easier: After losing to the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Lightning visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
They might've escaped Boston with at least a point, if not two, in the standings had they performed better on the power play. Bergeron and Kelly's goals were shorthanded. The Lightning power went 0-for-5 and squandered 3:25 of 5-on-3 time.
"I thought we battled ... I think our power play let us down tonight," said Martin St. Louis, who took the ice as the Lightning's captain for the first time after getting the "C" earlier in the week. "That falls on some of our top guys' shoulders. I wouldn't think that would be the case, our PP would let us down, it just did. They're a good PK team. They kill very well. We just got a little stubborn and impatient, and we needed a little bit more poise out there.
"You don't get too many 5-on-3s in the season, and you get two, two minutes, first game. It's not that we weren't prepared for it; it caught us off guard a bit. We'll fix that."
The Bruins got on the board first at 11:39 of the first period on Kelly's penalty shot, the first of his NHL career. He earned it when he stole the puck from Tampa Bay defenseman Mark Barberio at the red line and had a clear path to the net. Kelly's shot went wide, but he was hooked from behind by Barberio.
Kelly put the Bruins in front by faking a wrist shot between the hash marks and then sliding a backhander behind an out-of-position Lindback.
"I've tried that move in practice, but Tuukka doesn't move so it ends up just going into his pads," said Kelly, who has never participated in a shootout in his NHL career. "So it's kind of deflating. But I was happy he bit. He's a big guy and if you kind of shoot high he takes away a lot of the upper net. So I just tried to freeze him."
Said Lindback: "I bit on it, I thought he was shooting at first, and then I kind of sold myself out when I tried to poke check him there. He made a good move, and that's how it goes."
Tampa Bay had plenty of opportunities to get even. The Lightning couldn't solve Rask with 15 first-period shots, including several during their first 5-on-3 power play late in the first period. The two-man advantage carried over into the second period, but the Bruins continued to keep Tampa Bay off the board.
Boston nearly doubled its lead at 2:06 of the second period, but Jordan Caron's goal off his own rebound in front was immediately waved off. That gave the Lightning the opening they needed to tie the game at 10:32 on free-agent signeeValtteri Filppula's first goal in a Tampa Bay uniform. DefensemanEric Brewer started the play with an end-to-end rush, including a subtle move to slip a Daniel Paille hip check at the Boston blue line, before sliding the puck across the slot to Filppula, who put it into a half-empty net.
The Bruins regained the lead on Lucic's goal and took a one-goal lead to the third period.
After killing off more than a minute of another Tampa Bay 5-on-3 early in the third period, the Bruins extended their lead with a second shorthanded goal, this one while the Lightning had a 4-on-3 skating advantage. This time, Bergeron skated end to end and decided to keep the puck for a shot rather than feed defenseman Torey Krug on a 2-on-1. With Krug driving the net, Bergeron cut to the middle and snapped a shot off Lindback's shoulder and in at 4:02.