TAMPA — Vinny Lecavalier waited for the crowd.
The Lightning captain, with 13 seconds left in the third period and his back to Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, tipped a shot on net. But when Lecavalier didn't hear a roar, "I knew it didn't go in."
Had it done so, Thursday night would have been remembered for a stunning comeback. Instead, the 5-4 loss at the St. Pete Times Forum, which snapped Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak, was bemoaned for Boston's four first-period goals and the 5-0 second-period hole out of which the Lightning could not climb.
"We started running around," defenseman Mattias Ohlund said. "Our game is very good when it is structurally right. But we got into some really bad habits."
The league's lowest-scoring team, which had not scored more than three goals in 16 previous games, needed just 12 minutes, 55 seconds of the first to score four.
The 21 shots the Lightning allowed in the first period were a season high and a record for most allowed in a period at home.
Goalie Antero Niittymaki was pulled after the first period, though with so little defensive support, coach Rick Tocchet showed him mercy.
"I said 'sorry' to him afterward, poor guy," Tocchet said.
It was an unfortunate display for Tampa Bay (26-22-11) because it allowed the Bruins to tie it for the East's final playoff spot. The game also highlighted the Lightning's unbalanced scoring.
Marty St. Louis's two second-period goals that made the score 5-2 with 58 seconds left gave him 22, including 10 in his past 10 games. He and Steven Stamkos have 18 of the team's last 26 goals.
And though Steve Downie scored twice in the third to make it 5-4 with 3:13 remaining, he plays with Stamkos and St. Louis.
"We have to get some other people scoring," Tocchet said. "You can't keep relying on two or three guys. It's going to kick you."
The Bruins began kicking after the Lightning led 7-0 in shots.
Miroslav Satan made the score 1-0 4:24 into the game. Three more goals came in a stretch of 5:58 as Milan Lucic scored off a double deflection (the second off Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Smaby) and Michael Ryder scored twice to make it 4-0 with 2:41 left.
"We just went into a shell," Downie said.
"When teams are putting some pressure on you, you need to be able to make some clean plays," Tocchet said. "We made about eight not-clean plays; blown coverages, we're backing in, and we had a tough time making 12-foot passes because the pressure was on us."
From the lowest-scoring team in the league.
First Period—1, Boston, Satan 3 (Savard, Morris), 4:24. 2, Boston, Lucic 4 (Ryder, Ference), 11:21. 3, Boston, Ryder 14 (Wheeler, Morris), 15:44. 4, Boston, Ryder 15 (Savard, Bergeron), 17:19 (pp). Penalties—Thornton, Bos, major (fighting), 3:16; Walker, TB, major (fighting), 3:16; Satan, Bos (tripping), 7:55; Ohlund, TB (cross-checking), 7:55; Satan, Bos (roughing), 16:41; Downie, TB, double minor (roughing), 16:41.
Second Period—5, Boston, Lucic 5 (Chara, Paille), 4:53. 6, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 21 (Hedman, Stamkos), 16:10. 7, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 22 (Foster, Stamkos), 19:02 (pp). Penalties—Ohlund, TB (holding), 7:47; Chara, Bos (roughing, holding), 13:35; Downie, TB (roughing), 13:35; Fedoruk, TB (interference), 17:04; Ryder, Bos (holding), 17:15; Krejci, Bos (holding), 18:40.
Third Period—8, Tampa Bay, Downie 12 (Hedman, Stamkos), 11:09. 9, Tampa Bay, Downie 13 (Hedman, St. Louis), 16:47. Penalties—Chara, Bos (delay of game), 2:47; Wideman, Bos (hooking), 11:51. Shots on Goal—Boston 21-5-10—36. Tampa Bay 13-9-13—35. Power-play opportunities—Boston 1 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 5. Goalies—Boston, Rask 13-7-4 (35 shots-31 saves). Tampa Bay, Niittymaki (21-17), Smith 10-13-6 (0:00 second, 15-14). A—15,826 (19,758). T—2:33. Referees—Dan Marouelli, Justin St. Pierre. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Andy McElman.