Commentary

Crazy game had more ups than downs

Led by Seguin, Ryder and Thomas, Bruins showed strong signs of life

Updated: May 18, 2011, 9:52 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- If Tyler Seguin played for the Boston Red Sox, manager Terry Francona would say: "Let's not put the kid in Cooperstown just yet."

Yes, Seguin was instrumental in the Boston Bruins' 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night, as Boston evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. The 19-year-old rookie, playing in only his second NHL playoff game, notched two goals and two assists.

He now has three goals and three assists for six points in two games.

Seguin was downright nasty. It was obvious he was playing with more confidence than he has the entire season and it was impressive he was able to accomplish that at this time of the year.

"It's been a learning curve all year," Seguin said. "As the year went on, I've felt more confident and more poised. In big games, I always want to step up. Tonight I had some lucky bounces, but I was trying to take advantage of all the opportunities and they were going in tonight."

It was a crazy game on both ends. The TD Garden crowd was electric. It was a back-and-forth battle, one that the Bruins had to fight until the final buzzer sounded.

"To be honest, it was a pond hockey game tonight," Tampa coach Guy Boucher said. "When you play pond hockey, there is a chance that it won't turn your way. It might be exciting for the fans, but from a team's perspective, it's not how we have to play."

It's not how the Bruins wanted to play, either. But they pulled off the much-needed victory. Afterward, all the talk was about Seguin's performance, but there was so much more to the Bruins' victory beyond the rookie's heroics.

[+] EnlargeTyler Seguin
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireTyler Seguin's two goals and two assists in the second period energized the Bruins -- and the TD Garden crowd..

Teammate Michael Ryder had two goals and added an assist in the victory. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg continues to be a major cog on the blue line for Boston, recording 31:25 of ice time and a pair of assists. Even fellow defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who has struggled a bit, was solid.

For once, too, the Bruins were able to speak positively about the team's power play. The Bruins went 2-for-6 on the man-advantage, and that pair of power-play goals by Ryder and Nathan Horton proved crucial.

"Ryder was terrific. Seidenberg, I think Claude called him a horse, and he has been. Kaberle played a good game and he really responded tonight," Bruins veteran Mark Recchi said. "Our power play was much better. There were some great signs there and a couple of big goals and that's important, and hopefully that can spark some life into us."

With the two power-play goals, Boston is now 4-for-47 in that category.

"I thought our power play was good tonight," Julien said. "And our penalty kill was really good, especially early on in the game. I think when you look at what we've been talking about the last little while, special teams tonight were much better than we've seen in the past. So that's another positive thing for our hockey club."

Boston played extremely well in the first period, but trailed 2-1 at the end of 20 minutes. They were completely energized in the second period and scored a total of five goals, which was the most goals the Bruins have scored in a playoff period since a six-goal outburst against the Hartford Whalers on April 11, 1991.

When Julien breaks down the game tape, he won't notice much difference from what he saw up close and personal. It wasn't a complete game by the Bruins and the coach knows it.

"Just because we won the game tonight doesn't mean we're happy with it," he said. "I don't think anybody in that dressing room is extremely happy with our game, because we were sloppy at times."

The Bruins were sloppy in the third and the Lightning scored two goals in that period to cut Boston's lead to 6-5. The Bruins were able to hang on for the win because goaltender Tim Thomas came through with some timely saves down the stretch.

"He made some big saves at the end and allowed us to win that game," Julien said.

The series shifts to Tampa for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. While Seguin's performance from this game will be the focus, it can't go unnoticed that the Bruins will need to play better as the series progresses.

One bonus will be the possible return of Patrice Bergeron to the Bruins' lineup for Game 3. The team's assistant captain has missed the first two games due to a mild concussion, but all indications point to his return on Thursday, which will be a major boost for Boston.

"When you look back at the game, it certainly wasn't the perfect game that everyone would like to see," Julien said. "We won a hockey game and now the series is tied at 1-1. We know we have to get better. The win is what you should be looking at right now and hopefully we'll get Bergy back."

Meanwhile, it was no doubt Tyler Seguin's best game of this season, and with a performance like that there's no way Julien can take him out of the lineup once Bergeron returns. Someone else will be the odd-man out.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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