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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Bolts open season with 3-1 loss in Boston

BOSTON — Plenty of new failed to alter familiar results for the Tampa Bay Lightning on opening night.

With six rookies on the ice, a new coaching staff behind the bench, new division rivals on the opposing side and a renewed commitment to defensive play, Tampa Bay still came out on the wrong side of a result against Boston in a 3-1 loss in front of an announced sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.

The loss dropped the Lightning to 4-27-9 all-time in Boston, where Tampa Bay has lost seven consecutive games.

Valtteri Filppula scored in his Lightning debut, while Anders Lindback finished with 22 saves to take the loss.

The Bruins, defending Eastern Conference champions, got a 32-save performance from Tuukka Rask in net, while Milan Lucic had the game-winner late in the second period.

Then there were the two short-handed goals, from Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly (on a penalty shot), as the Lightning’s power play fizzled and failed to convert on five opportunities, including two lengthy two-man-advantage chances.

“Our power play let us down tonight, and not in a million years would I have thought the power play would be the thing to let us down tonight,’’ captain Marty St. Louis said. “They were taking away some of our go-tos and we were slow to reacting or adjusting, and that falls on the top guys’ shoulders.”

At even strength, the Lightning were even with the Bruins, if not a tick better, outshooting Boston 28-20 and not giving in to some of the momentum swings that went the Bruins’ way.

“Five-on-five, you couldn’t say one team was better than the other, both teams had their chances and I was really happy, I didn’t think we gave up too much,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Aside from the power play, I was really happy with the way we played.’’

The first Boston short-handed goal came 11:39 into the game, when rookie defenseman Mark Barberio left a drop pass for Filppula that was picked off by Kelly, who raced in alone. Barberio was then forced to hook Kelly, resulting in the penalty shot, which Kelly buried after putting a pump-fake move on Lindback.

Tampa Bay had a 5-on-3 power-play chance for 1:54 late in the first period, but could not convert despite four shots.

In the second, the teams exchanged even-strength goals, Filppula converting a pass from Eric Brewer to tie it at 10:32 of the second period.

Lucic gave Boston the lead back, taking a back pass from David Krejci before settling the puck and lifting a shot over Lindback with 60 seconds left in the period.

Early in the third, Tampa Bay got another two-man advantage when Zdeno Chara was called for interference two seconds into Scott Thornton’s slashing call at 2:03.

But the Lightning failed to generate a quality scoring chance before Ryan Malone negated the final 38 seconds of the advantage on an interference call at 3:38. Twenty-four seconds later, Bergeron took the puck from Richard Panik to start a 2-on-1 rush, which Bergeron finished when he wristed a shot off Lindback at 4:02.

“You don’t want your power play to go like that, we had a couple of long five-on-threes where you need to score,’’ Filppula said.

But it wasn’t all bad for Tampa Bay, which outshot the Bruins 33-25, and received good enough goaltending to have a chance.

“I saw 57 minutes of good hockey, and then about three minutes of a tough power play,’’ Cooper said. “You can go two months without giving up two short-handed goals, and here we gave up two in a game. So that’s the frustrating part because that’s the difference in the game.’’

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