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Tampa Bay Lightning takes advantage of Patrice Bergeron's absence in faceoff circle

BOSTON — Lightning LW Simon Gagne said that with the Bruins missing C Patrice Bergeron (mild concussion), one big difference could be in the faceoff circle.

Boy, was Gagne right.

Tampa Bay won 41 of 67 faceoffs (61.2 percent) in Saturday's 5-2 Game 1 win. And with Bergeron, the league leader in the playoffs (64.2 percent), out indefinitely, the Bruins know they must be better.

"It's such a key aspect," Bruins C Brad Marchand said; "the amount of time you start with the puck and amount of offense you can create off of that."

The Lightning still ranks last among the remaining teams in faceoffs (50.6 percent). But Saturday, Vinny Lecavalier won 16 of 26 and Nate Thompson 9 of 12.

"It's a puck possession game. Faceoffs are huge, especially on special teams and clearing the puck out on the power play," Lightning C Steven Stamkos said. "We definitely did a good job of not only centermen winning draws but wingers helping out, defensemen helping out, getting good sticks, taking the bodies."

Curveball: The Bruins said they were thrown off a bit by the Lightning, at times, using a more aggressive forecheck than its usual 1-3-1 trap.

"They know that we know their system, and maybe they just wanted … to throw a curveball," Marchand said. "I think you saw on the third goal, (Teddy Purcell) was still going pretty hard behind the net, which is pretty rare. They were throwing different looks at us at different positions in the game, and it's tough to defend against at all times."

Lightning G Dwayne Roloson, though, pointed out the team has "shown something different all the time."

"Everyone makes a big deal of the 1-3-1," he said. "But we're constantly changing it."

CLUTCH CLARK: Veteran D Brett Clark said he likely will never forget his first-period goal Saturday, which included an end-to-end rush and a backhander under the right arm of Tim Thomas.

"It's one of those plays where the ice opens up for you and I kept taking it in deep," Clark said. "I got lucky. But whenever you put the puck on the net in the playoffs, you never know what's going to happen."

But as for where the goal ranks among the 46 in his career (including three in the playoffs), Clark said it might fall short of the one in the 2005-06 playoffs with Colorado, when he tied the score with a short-handed goal in a 5-4 overtime win over Dallas.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Bergeron skated Sunday, but Bruins coach Claude Julien had no update on his status. Bergeron, hurt during Game 4 against the Flyers in the previous round, won't be rushed back. "If he's not 100 percent, he will never play," Julien said.

For the Lightning, Clark and D Mattias Ohlund didn't skate. But the team said both rested and will play in Game 2.

Tampa Bay Lightning takes advantage of Patrice Bergeron's absence in faceoff circle 05/15/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 15, 2011 9:24pm]
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