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Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Boston Bruins 2-0 in Game 3 of East final, Bruins lead series 2-1

TAMPA — You have to remember, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, there is another team on the ice trying to stop Tampa Bay from doing the things it does best.

And certainly the Bruins played a fine road game Thursday night to earn a 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference called it a "simple road game" with positional discipline and an aggressive forecheck that stymied Tampa Bay, gave most of the sellout crowd of 21,027 little for which to cheer and earned Boston a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas also was on the spot, making 31 saves for his second career playoff shutout. But in the final analysis, Lightning players said, the blame falls on them.

"They played good defensively, but we didn't do the thing we needed to do to score goals," wing Sean Bergenheim said. "They were disciplined, but our offense wasn't there."

"We didn't do enough to create enough offensive chances," center Steven Stamkos said. "We didn't get to the net as hard as we've been doing; screens, rebounds. For whatever reason, we didn't do the things we did in Games 1 and 2 to get the goals."

And as so often happens in games like that, mistakes get magnified.

Tampa Bay's biggest came 1:09 into the game. It lost track of Bruins center David Krejci, who, alone in front of the net, had all the time he wanted to deke goalie Dwayne Roloson out of position and score for a 1-0 lead.

Ference's goal 8:12 into the third period on a screened point shot that dribbled through Roloson's legs was insurance. But it was the first goal about which Tampa Bay kicked itself.

"We're supposed to have somebody in front of the net, and that person wasn't there," Boucher said. "It's a very simple read, but when you're eager to get on the ice, sometimes it will make you make some mistakes. It was a costly mistake, and we paid for it.

"I'm not going to blame somebody. It's a team thing, and we want to make sure it's a team mistake we correct."

But when defenseman Brett Clark ran into one of the referees, defensive partner Victor Hedman left his spot near the center of the ice to cover for him. That should have been a signal for a forward, ideally center Dominic Moore, to cover the front of the net Hedman vacated. But the play was so disrupted, it seemed to create hesitation and confusion.

Hedman said there also was a "lack of communication." Still, the Lightning had 59 more minutes to come back, and its well-played defensive scheme limited Boston's chances and kept Tampa Bay in the game.

The Lightning just could not break through.

"We just didn't challenge offensively," wing Marty St. Louis said. "We've got to make Tim Thomas' job harder."

Especially considering the Bruins are 5-0 in the playoffs when leading after two periods and 5-1 on the road.

The other notable number? Only two goals were scored after the teams combined for 18 in the first two games of the series.

"I think the game probably resembled a lot more of what everybody expected from this series," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Two teams that make it hard for you to score, and I thought our team was very good in regards to that."

"Is it us not working hard enough to get the tying goal or them playing very well in front of Thomas?" Lightning wing Simon Gagne said. "We're going to take a look at it. There's always a solution. We're going to try and find a way."

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Boston Bruins 2-0 in Game 3 of East final, Bruins lead series 2-1 05/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 5:50pm]
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