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THE FIRST HIT

A first-period goal spurt and stout Lightning defensive playfrustrate Bruins.

Two sucker punches.

That was what the Bruins were reduced to by the end of the Lightning's 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday night at TD Garden:

Milan Lucic popping Tampa Bay center Dominic Moore in the chops with 36.7 seconds left just after Nathan Horton popped defenseman Victor Hedman.

That was no surprise, said Hedman, considering "we were leading and there was not a whole lot of time left."

"That's the way it goes," Moore said. "Both teams are competing for every square inch in there, so there are no surprises at any point in the game."

But coach Guy Boucher said the blows, both of which earned 10-minute misconducts but especially Lucic's straight left to Moore's head, are worthy of a look by the league. "The league is looking at head punches," he said, "and that was a straight head punch."

Tampa Bay, though, delivered a body blow with two goals in 19 seconds and three in 1 minute, 25 seconds to take a 3-0 lead with 7:20 left in the first period. Both are team playoff records for quick tallies.

Sean Bergenheim scored his team-best eighth goal and seventh in his past seven games in the first, followed by Brett Clark and Teddy Purcell.

Marc-Andre Bergeron and Simon Gagne scored in the third as the Lightning won its eighth straight game and team playoff-record sixth straight on the road.

The Lightning penalty kill continued to flourish, going 4-for-4, and Dwayne Roloson, 41, outplayed Tim Thomas with 31 saves, for his eighth straight playoff win, which ties Jacques Plante for most consecutive wins by a goalie 40 or older.

"It was all good," Purcell said. "We knew the first game was going to be important. We wanted to come out with a good start."

The Bruins did, too, and forced the action early, and though the shots were close in the first, 12-10 for Boston, Tampa Bay blocked eight, including big blocks by Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, who threw himself into the slot to block a shot by Horton.

"You have to block shots," St. Louis said. "It's a desperate time of year. I think it's a mentality we have. Every play matters. Every shot they get through the first layer has a chance to go in. If it goes off you and goes in the corner, less work for (Roloson)."

The Lightning struck quickly, with Bergenheim scoring with 8:45 left from in front of the net. Next was Clark driving on the right wing and launching what seemed to be an innocent backhander that deflected in off Thomas.

Purcell finished the onslaught when he took the puck away from Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle behind the net and took two whacks to get it past Thomas for a 3-0 lead.

"I kind of handcuffed myself," Purcell said. "I was surprised the puck came out; it kind of caught Thomas off-guard as well."

"Anybody who knows the game will see mistakes on all three goals," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We've got to make sure that we're a little better with puck management, and that wasn't there (Saturday)."

The move the Bruins tried to make as the game ended was physical. Hedman said it was "my bad" he didn't see Horton's punch coming, and Boucher praised his players for not getting sucked into retaliating. "We control what we control," he said, "and that is our guys stay calm."

"It has been," Purcell said, "our game plan all year."

* * *

Quick strikes I

Saturday was marked the third time this postseason the Lightning has scored two goals in less than a minute:

Date.........Opponent.......Seconds........Scorers

Saturday...Bruins.................19...........Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark

May 4.......Capitals...............24...........Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone

April 23.....Penguins.............46............Simon Gagne, Steven Stamkos

* * *

Quick strikes II

The Lightning in the first period set a franchise playoff record for the fastest three goals during the first period Saturday, breaking the mark set during the third period of Game 2 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final against the Flames. The scorers and time of the goals:

Saturday................................2004

Sean Bergenheim....11:15......Brad Richards........2:51

Brett Clark..............11:34......Dan Boyle..............4:00

Teddy Purcell..........12:40.....Marty St. Louis.......5:58

Total time:..............1:25.......Total time:............3:07

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