Everyone has heard the old wife’s tale fueled by the anecdote that lightning never strikes the same place more than once in close succession. The Tampa Bay Lightning took about a minute to disprove that theory Saturday night at the TD Garden in their opening game of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Bruins.
Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark, and Teddy Purcell all scored within a 90 second frame midway through the first period as the Lightning bolted out to a 3-0 lead and held on to topple the Bruins 5-2, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 series lead in the best of seven.
The jolt of electricity that jump started the Lightning’s offense? Look no further than Bergenheim, whose eight playoff goals now lead the league in post season play.
For Bergenheim, who scored 14 goals in the entire regular season, it’s a welcome result.
“Well, you know, it’s a good feeling but to be honest the best feeling is that we’re winning,” explained Bergenheim. “I think my role has been, the whole year, pretty much the same with the difference that now, obviously, we as a line are scoring a little bit more.”
And though the work ethic has been a constant for Bergenheim throughout the year, smaller changes in his game personally seem to be making the big difference.
“What I’ve tried to work on lately is to maybe when I see some situations I’ll take a step back instead of being in the goalie’s, you know, like right next to the goalie and now it’s been working,” Bergenheim noted.
“It doesn’t mean that I’m not crashing the net still. I’ve got to keep on doing that to help the team, but there’s a little bit of a different thing there that I’ve been trying to do and so far it’s worked out, thanks to my line mates about that, because they’re doing a tremendous job.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher who was quick to commend Bergenheim on his recent contributions, also felt the need to stress the line’s play as a whole.
“Certainly he’s had success scoring goals, but if you look at the way the goals have been scored, [Dominic] Moore is always on his plays and [Steve] Downie’s there too,” he said. “There’s always a beginning and finishers get the glory most of the time. There’s a lot of steps in the process that make that happen.”
After the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0, it was the Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin who undressed Tampa Bay defensemen Mike Lundin and beat goalie Dwayne Roloson to bring the game within two.
There is no denying that the three-goal burst by the Lightning was the difference on the night, but Boucher also preached his teams ability to keep the intensity and pace on high after gaining the lead.
“I think that’s a trademark of our team, we keep pushing,” explained Boucher. “I thought Tim Thomas made some really, really solid saves when we basically had our hands up on the bench thinking that was a sure goal. So, we pushed but he kept us back in the second period and the beginning of the third period.
“We’re not a team that is waiting to win games, we like to push to win games. Obviously when it’s time to play defense it’s time to play defense. When we’ve got the puck we keep pushing.”
Buzz around the league was that the Lightning and Bruins might show some signs of rust as both clubs were coming back after rather long layoffs from second round sweeps. But as Lightning forward Dominic Moore explained, after getting their legs, there was little rust to be had.
“I think it was a tough thing for both teams having that lay off,” said Moore, who assisted on Bergenheim’s goal. “I think maybe we got a little bit lucky. We got a couple of good bounces early on. That helps a lot.
“I think the start of the game you want to try and come out and play sharp, but at the same time when you haven’t played in nine days it gets tough. You just kind of have to keep it simple sometimes.”