TAMPA — Lightning right wing Teddy Purcell said it was a shift he'll never forget.
Purcell, who is coming of age in his first playoffs, sparked Tampa Bay's 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Bruins on Saturday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final with two goals in 1:03 of the second period.
It was the fastest two goals by a Lightning player in a playoff game, coming nearly seven years to the day after Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice in 2:18 in Game 4 of the East final against the Flyers on May 20, 2004.
Purcell, 25, couldn't have picked a better time to perform the feat. He brought the Lightning within a goal after it trailed 3-0.
Purcell's 15 playoff points (four goals, 11 assists) rank second on the team, behind Vinny Lecavalier's and Marty St. Louis' 17, and are tied for third in the NHL.
"I think he's one of the best players in the league right now," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "With the confidence and the poise he has with the puck, he's been tremendous for us."
Though coach Guy Boucher has talked about how Purcell has elevated his game in the playoffs in terms of battle level, drive and physical play, the goals showcased his offensive skill and poise.
On Purcell's first goal, 6:55 into the second period, he was coming off a line change when Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone put pressure on Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara behind the Boston net and caused a turnover. Gagne found Purcell in the right circle, and Purcell faked a shot to deke a Bruins defenseman, went to his backhand and slid the puck past goalie Tim Thomas.
Just more than a minute later, Purcell received a pass in the right circle again. This time he patiently carried the puck closer, allowing more traffic to get in front of Thomas, before ripping a wrist shot in.
"I don't think Thomas saw it," Purcell said. "I put it on net and lucky it went in. It was a good shift for me, one I'll always remember, for sure."
Purcell, who said his first playoff game felt like his first NHL game in terms of nerves, has grown in confidence throughout the postseason, and that has allowed his skills to come out.
"I think what we're discovering with Teddy now is that when it's a tough game, when it's a close environment type of game where there's not much space out there, he can do the same now as what he did before when he had a lot of space," Boucher said.
"To me, that's a major evolution of his game, because that means what he was doing in the American league and college ranks, he can do it in games now, and not just during the regular season. He's doing it in the biggest games."