TAMPA — It was a cold case of hockey karma, as Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper so eloquently put it.
The solid play of goalie Ben Bishop, the great team defense that led to a 5-2 record and the gritty performance that led to a Lightning victory over Minnesota just days go was nowhere to be found Saturday night.
“The only thing good about tonight was probably the National Anthem,” Cooper said. “After that, everything (stunk).”
The visiting Boston Bruins handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first shutout defeat and third loss of the season, 5-0, before an announced crowd of 18,512 at The Forum.
The loss snapped the Lightning’s two game win streak and was one of the worse performances of the early season.
“Just from the get go, we just have the grit we need to have and it starts with me,” veteran Lightning right-win Marty St. Louis said. “I didn’t have the grit and the aggressiveness I need to help the team when we’re struggling a little bit. We all were caught watching a little bit instead of making it happen.”
Said All-Star center Steven Stamkos: “It was embarrassing and we can’t have an effort like that, especially at home.”
Boston slipped three goals passed Bishop in the second period, which tied the most goals allowed in a period by the Lightning this season. The five goals allowed tied a season-high.
Prior to Friday’s game, Bishop had won all five of his starts and hadn’t allowed more than two goals in a game.
“That wasn’t the way we want to play,” Bishop said. “Especially at home in front of our fans. It’s unacceptable. We have to put this in the past now, we have a very hard test coming up here with Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champion so we can be a lot better and we will be.”
Adam McQuaid started on the second-period onslaught with an unassisted goal from 57-feet out to give Bruins 2-0 lead. Patrice Bergeron scored off an assist from Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson with 5:08 left, and a little over a minute later, was followed by Kelly’s goal.
Bishop was pulled for Andres Lindback following the fourth goal by the Bruins from Chris Kelly with 4:13 left in the period. Entering the game, Bishop’s 1.57 goals-against average ranked fourth in the NHL among goalies with more than one start and he had stopped 124 of 132 shots for a .943 save percentage.
“To be honest, I left him in at goal too late,” Cooper said. “I should have probably taken him out earlier. He’s been great for us and would he sit here and say he’d like a few of those back? I’m sure he would but this falls no where near on our goaltenders.”
Shawn Thornton scored 34 seconds into the third period for the Bruins’ final score. The Lightning out-shot Boston 23-22 and were 0-3 on the power play. All five on Boston’s goals were at even strength.
“They just wanted it more,” Stamkos said. “The first shift we get scored on so it’s not a good way you want to start. They just battled for pucks more, they wanted it more tonight and it showed.”
The Lightning came close to scoring in the second period when on separate occasions, Tyler Johnson nearly found the back of the net on a shorthanded goal and Stamkos coming close to putting one passed Boston goalie Tuukka Rask in front of the net on pass from St. Louis.
“As a coach you’re looking for anything to get the guys going so I guess if there’s a game that you’re going to try and battle back and look at different combinations this is it. It seemed the more we tried to do things, the worse it got.”
Less than two minutes into first period, David Krejci scored on 2-on-2 drive with Milan Lucic to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.