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Tampa Bay Lightning shows 'toughness' during Game 1 against Boston Bruins

BOSTON — It would have been easy Saturday for Lightning center Dominic Moore to slug Nathan Horton.

It was the natural response considering the Bruins right wing, with 36.7 seconds left in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, hit Moore with a roundhouse right.

But Moore let it go; same for defenseman Victor Hedman, who in the same sequence was decked by Milan Lucic's straight left to the face.

The skirmish had little effect on Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory at TD Garden. But for coach Guy Boucher, it was an "impressive" display of restraint, which he has preached all season.

"You've got to take it all to take it all," he said Sunday. "Real toughness is not what you give.

"It's how much you can take and keep going. Right now, we're showing real toughness."

By not retaliating, Tampa Bay earned a two-man power play as Horton and Lucic received two-minute roughing penalties and 10-minute misconducts.

The passive-aggressive posture also keeps players focused on maintaining the team's on-ice structure rather than how to get back at an opponent.

That is important given the emotions of the playoffs, Boucher said. Especially against a team such as the Bruins that uses physical play, especially at home, to draw retaliatory penalties.

And then Boston lost badly.

"(The Bruins) wanted to try to prove a point for (Game 2)," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said of the late violence. "We didn't want to fall into that."

Not that turning the other cheek is easy. You get punched in the face, you want payback.

"To say we have been successful all season, no," Boucher said. "But we've been successful in most parts."

As Moore said, "I've been punched in the head enough to know it's just part of it."

Even Hedman, 20, seems to have gotten the message.

"He tells us we can't let our emotions take over," he said of Boucher. "Stay in our structure, stay calm, stay focused, don't get sucked in when the other team is trying to get under your skin. Be strong within yourself."

So while Bruins center Brad Marchand said he was "infuriated" by the way the game was going and was determined to "poke at guys" …

"They were just walking away," he said of the Lightning.

"It's the playoffs," Boston center Chris Kelly said. "Everyone is going to take a punch or glove to the face and try to draw that penalty. They did that once or twice."

Such as when Lecavalier went after Johnny Boychuk, who had run over Simon Gagne with a big hit. Boychuk punched Lecavalier in return and got a roughing penalty, after which Lecavalier ended his physical challenge.

"After I saw the referee call the penalty, I stopped because I knew we would get a power play," Lecavalier said.

Marc-Andre Bergeron's goal 90 seconds later gave the Lightning a 4-1 third-period lead.

There will be more challenges.

Marchand accused Lecavalier of "yapping back a bit. … So you're going to talk to the guys that talk back."

And Bruins coach Claude Julien planted a seed with the referees by noting, "It's always easy to look at the punch; like that penalty Boychuk took. How we end up short-handed is tough to see when Lecavalier jumps him after a clean hit."

Perhaps because Lecavalier did not jump in with both fists.

Tampa Bay Lightning shows 'toughness' during Game 1 against Boston Bruins 05/15/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 15, 2011 10:50pm]
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