BOSTON – The Boston Bruins’ season was only eight minutes old when forward Chris Kelly skated in alone toward Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback on a short-handed rush.
A stick in the gut prevented him from getting off a clean drive, but it earned him the first penalty shot of his career. He converted, and Patrice Bergeron also scored a short-handed goal on Thursday night as the Bruins opened the defence of their Eastern Conference championship with a 3-1 victory over the Lightning.
“Not in a million years did I think it was our power play that would let us down,” Lightning captain Martin St. Louis said. “We were slow-reacting, and stubborn.”
It was the first time in NHL history that a team scored its first goal of the season on a penalty shot, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Lightning went 0-for-5 on the power play, failing to score on a pair of 5-on-3 advantages, while allowing the two short-handed goals.
On the night before the Red Sox open their AL playoff series against the Rays, Boston got an early jump on Tampa Bay thanks in part to 32 saves by Tuukka Rask. The Bruins took the lead after Kelly was hooked from behind by defenceman Mark Barberio on a breakaway; on the penalty shot, he faked to his left and then moved right before backhanding the puck past Lindback.
“I tried that move in practice, but Tuukka doesn’t move,” said Kelly, who had never been awarded a penalty shot in juniors or any other level, either. “It goes into his pads, and it’s deflating.”
Boston killed a 5-on-3 power play in the first period and another in the third, getting help from a phantom interference call that left them just one man down. Bergeron wove his way through the middle of the ice and took a shot that hit Lindback and rolled into the net to make it 3-1.
Boston reached the Stanley Cup finals last season for the second time in three years, losing to Chicago in six games when the Blackhawks scored the go-ahead and game-winning goals in a span of 17 seconds in the third period of the clincher.
“Last year was a good year, not a great year,” Kelly said. “It’s in the past. But I thought everybody fit in well tonight.”
Lindback stopped 22 shots for the Lightning. St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, who were Nos. 1-2 in scoring in the NHL last season, didn’t register a point.
“We can’t be a well-oiled machine every night,” Stamkos said.
Milan Lucic also scored for Boston. David Krejci, who was a game-time decision with back spasms, had the team’s only assist.
The Bruins were outshot 15-6 in the first, oddly getting half of their scoring chances while they were two men down midway through the period.
It was 1-0 midway through the second when Eric Brewer beat Daniel Paille at the blue line and then another Bruin below the right circle before passing the puck across to Valtteri Filppula for the goal. Krejci did most of the work along the boards before sending a pass into the middle for Lucic, who gave Boston a 2-1 lead with 1 minute left in the second.
NOTES: Boston announced during the game that defenceman Dennis Seidenberg signed a four-year contract extension. … The Bruins went 6-1 in the exhibition season. … Bruins F Carl Soderberg missed the game with an ankle injury…. Including the 2011 East finals, Boston has won eight straight over Tampa Bay at home. … The Bruins wished the Red Sox good luck on the scoreboard, drawing a big cheer.