John Tortorella had a smile on his face really.
The Lightning had lost to the Bruins 4-3 Sunday night in the harshest of ways _ Bill Guerin scored on a breakaway with 24.5 seconds left in overtime _ but the Lightning coach was seeing only silver linings.
"This hockey team competed its (butt) off against what I think is the best team in the league," Tortorella said. "I am very happy with the way the Tampa Bay Lightning is competing right now."
But somewhere in the back of Tortorella's mind, he was thinking about what might have been.
"It just stinks," he finally said, "to lose a game like that."
The Lightning had every chance to beat the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. It outplayed Boston through the third period, forced the action through overtime and had the crowd of 18,009 at the Ice Palace on the edge of its seat.
But Tampa Bay just could not finish it off, failing on all seven of its power plays, including a two-minute advantage late in the third period that included 44 seconds of four-on-three and 44 seconds of five-on-three.
The result was the end of Tampa Bay's team record seven-game unbeaten streak.
And though the Lightning got a point for the regulation tie, giving it points in a team-record eight straight games (3-0-4-1), it lost a chance to pick up more ground on idle Montreal, which is nine points ahead of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's nice to be undefeated after 60 minutes," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "But we have to start putting these teams away."
Like Guerin did when he took a nice lead pass from P.J. Axelsson and got the best of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for his 36th goal and the winner.
Axelsson made the play, knocking down Boyle at the Bruins blue line, stealing the puck and getting it to his teammate.
"He came over and hit the guy and was able to dig the puck out from underneath and just laid a perfect pass right on my stick," Guerin said. "I just went five hole."
And just like that, it was over. Boston won its fourth straight and seventh of its past eight.
The ending was even more startling because the Lightning had absolutely pushed the Bruins to the wall since 11:04 into the second period, when Vinny Prospal's second goal, and 15th of the season, tied the score at 3.
Tampa Bay outshot the Bruins 30-24 in the game and 14-5 from the beginning of the third period. But two third-period shots that did not go on net were the most frustrating for the Lightning.
The first was off the stick of Vinny Lecavalier during the third-period five-on-three. Lecavalier, whose goal 2:07 into the game (his 14th and first in 11 games) gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, missed an open net off a perfect feed from Dave Andreychuk.
"I had the game right there," he said. "The puck just bounced off my stick."
Next was Sheldon Keefe's shot that beat goaltender Byron Dafoe (who tied a career best with his 32nd victory) but clanked off the post. Keefe did well just to get a shot off, doing so with a defender on his back.
"I just wanted to get it at the net," he said.
The power play, which had been so good in fueling the Lightning's resurgence since the Olympic break, has just one goal in its past 26 tries.
"I think we're forcing the issue a little," Andreychuk said. "We're not letting things happen. We're trying to do little individual things and it's not working for us."
So take your pick, silver lining or what might have been.
"That's the thing about overtime," Tortorella said. "You win it and it's such a rush. You lose it and it's tough to take."