BOSTON — Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he "wanted to puke" when he saw the replay of how his team lost to the Bruins on Thursday night.
It wasn't so much that Boston's Milan Lucic scored with 3:42 left in the third period to steal a 2-1 victory at TD Garden. It was that referee Rob Martell inadvertently kicked the puck to Lucic, who shot it over sprawled goaltender Mike Smith.
"Did you see it?" Boucher said. "I know (Martell) is trying to be there, but the puck should be behind the net. Lucic shouldn't even see it. That's a puke, plain and simple."
"They got one extra bounce we didn't get," Smith said, "and that's the difference between a win and a loss."
It also gave Northeast Division-leading Boston (38-19-7) a two-point lead over Southeast-leading Tampa Bay (37-20-7) for second in the Eastern Conference and cut the Lightning's lead in the division over the Capitals, who beat the Blues, to one.
"We knew coming into this game it was a fight for the second spot," Lucic said. "We wanted to make sure we came out and gave everything we had."
The Lightning gave everything as well, especially considering it started without four injured players, including captain Vinny Lecavalier, out with a mid-body injury.
It also lost right wing Steve Downie in the second period with a recurrence of a high ankle sprain when he was hit by Boston's Shawn Thornton.
But Boucher called Eric Brewer "tremendous." And the defenseman scored his first Lightning goal 4:04 into the second period for a 1-0 lead. Smith, sharp and confident, made 26 saves in his first game since his recall from AHL Norfolk.
A low point? A 1:53 five-on-three in the second with the score 1-1 on which Tampa Bay, without power-play mainstays Lecavalier and Marc-Andre Bergeron (back spasms), could not convert.
That would be forgotten with the winning goal, scored after Smith made two terrific saves, including a stretching right-leg stop on David Krejci's tip try with a crush of bodies in front of the net.
Martell went to the side of the net for a better look, and that is when the puck bounced off his skate "right to Lucic's stick," Smith said.
"I just waited around to see if something popped out," Lucic said. "It did. Everyone was on the ice, including their goalie, so I just shot high and it went in."
And Tampa Bay, in its fourth straight 2-1 game, lost its second straight to go 1-2 on a three-game road trip.
"It's bad luck, and it's unfair," Boucher said. "But that's life."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]
First Period—None. Penalties—Lucic, Bos (cross-checking), 7:55; Hall, TB (hooking), 10:47.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Brewer 9 (B.Jones, Downie), 4:04. 2, Boston, Kampfer 5 (Kelly, Peverley), 6:06. Penalties—Downie, TB, misconduct, 6:38; Thornton, Bos, misconduct, 6:38; Ohlund, TB (roughing), 8:17; Brewer, TB, major (fighting), 10:10; Horton, Bos (tripping), 10:10; Lucic, Bos, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 10:10; Seidenberg, Bos (cross-checking), 15:23.
Third Period—3, Boston, Lucic 28 (Krejci, Horton), 16:18. Penalties—Brewer, TB (high-sticking), 9:46. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-13-5—28. Boston 8-13-7—28. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 4; Boston 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, M.Smith 10-6-0 (28 shots-26 saves). Boston, Thomas 29-8-6 (28-27). A—17,565 (17,565). T—2:20. Referees—Rob Martell, Stephen Walkom. Linesmen—Darren Gibbs, Pierre Champoux.