BOSTON — Empty and quiet.
That was the Lightning locker room Saturday night after Tampa Bay was gouged 4-1 by the Bruins at TD Garden.
But when players decided to talk, they were loud and clear about how they crumbled in the first meeting between the teams since Boston eliminated Tampa Bay from the playoffs in last season's seven-game Eastern Conference final.
"We got outplayed, out-poised, out-muscled and out-battled," left wing Marty St. Louis said. "There wasn't much positive to take out of this game."
Said captain Vinny Lecavalier: "They played better than us in every aspect of the game."
There's no shame in losing to the defending Stanley Cup champions. It was how Tampa Bay (1-1) was steamrolled that was so startling.
Consider Boston's 42-26 shot advantage and that if not for goaltender Mathieu Garon, the outcome would have been far worse. Add blocked shots and shots that missed the net, and Boston held an astonishing 85-46 edge.
The Lightning was 0-for-5 on a power play coach Guy Boucher characterized as having "absolutely no poise" and making "dumb, dumb plays." And the team's top two lines, Boucher said, "didn't give us what we needed."
The Bruins constantly had the puck, and the Lightning constantly was chasing or losing puck battles or backing up in the defensive zone.
"There are points in games and momentum changes, and we didn't change anything," Lecavalier said. "There was only one momentum. It just seems like they were the ones doing it. They were the ones who shot the puck. They were the ones creating chaos."
St. Louis provided a glimmer of hope with his 300th career goal on a breakaway that tied the score 1-1 3:20 into the second period. But Daniel Paille's goal on a deflection made it 2-1 at 4:58.
That said, had Bruins goalie Tim Thomas — with a save he said he made while "falling over" — not stoned Teddy Purcell from the left faceoff circle 1:44 into the third to preserve a 2-1 lead, things might have been different.
Instead, David Krejci scored 83 seconds later to make it 3-1.
The whole thing was such a startling reversal from Tampa Bay's 5-1 victory Friday over the Hurricanes that everyone was grasping for answers.
Playing back-to-back games with the second against a rested opponent certainly was a factor. And Boston is a complete opponent.
"When you play those guys, you have to play close to a perfect game," Boucher said, "so we needed our legs, and we needed our drive."
Instead, the Lightning went quietly.
First Period—None. Penalties—Gilroy, TB (holding), 4:21; Downie, TB (roughing), 9:13; Marchand, Bos (roughing), 9:13; Boychuk, Bos (slashing), 10:28; Connolly, TB (tripping), 13:40; Lucic, Bos (slashing), 16:31.
Second Period—1, Boston, Peverley 1 (Marchand, Boychuk), 2:04. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 2 (Malone, Lecavalier), 3:20. 3, Boston, Paille 1 (McQuaid, Seguin), 4:58. Penalties—Brewer, TB (tripping), 10:24; Seguin, Bos (holding), 10:59; Moore, TB (roughing), 13:21; Marchand, Bos (roughing), 13:21; Connolly, TB (hooking), 14:04; Boychuk, Bos (tripping), 19:52.
Third Period—4, Boston, Krejci 1 (Lucic, Seguin), 3:07. 5, Boston, Peverley 2 (P.Bergeron, Marchand), 8:43. Penalties—Tampa Bay bench, served by Connolly (too many men), 10:19; Moore, TB (slashing), 15:32; Horton, Bos (cross-checking), 15:32; Seguin, Bos (tripping), 17:37. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-7-10—26. Boston 15-15-12—42. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 5; Boston 0 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Garon 0-1-0 (42 shots-38 saves). Boston, Thomas 1-1-0 (26-25).