When Adam Hall got Tim Thomas out of position early in Tuesday night's Game 2 at TD Garden, it may as well have been over for the Boston Bruins. Hall's goal at 0:13 of the first period gave the Lightning -- already holding a one game to none series lead -- a 1-0 lead in the game, and the rest was history.
After all, the Lightning were undefeated in the playoffs (8-0) when scoring first, and undefeated when leading after the first period as well, which they did when Martin St. Louis snuck a puck between Johnny Boychuk's skates and past Tim Thomas with just 6.5 seconds remaining in that first period to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 intermission lead.
First goal? Check. First intermission lead? Automatic.
Automatic, indeed. Except it wasn't the Bolts who were a sure thing.
It was Tyler Seguin, who led a Bruins charge that scored five second-period goals on nine shots. Seguin, the rookie from Brampton, Ont. who was drafted second overall by the Bruins in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, had a hand in all but one of his team's goals in the frame, scoring two and assisting on two Michael Ryder tallies.
The first of those Ryder goals was a power play marker that was the Bruins' second man-advantage goal of the game -- quite the feat for a team that hadn't achieved such a thing in 50 days and for a power play that had gone 2-for-41 to date in these playoffs.
Tampa, to be sure, fought back in the third period, making it a 6-5 game with a questionable goal by Dominic Moore with 6:45 to play in the game that came after Boston netminder Tim Thomas had lost his mask, normally cause for an immediate whistle and stoppage in play.
The NHL rulebook states that when a goaltender loses his mask, the game is supposed to be stopped, but, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien, "if they (Tampa) are in the scoring position the referee's have the discretion to let it go. And they felt they were in the scoring position and so they didn't blow the whistle."
By that point, it made sense that there was no whistle blown; despite the officials calling a close game the whole way, there was little that could be done to keep it from turning into what Tampa coach Guy Boucher called a pond hockey game.
"We've got two great goaltenders. A six-five game, I don't think anybody is predicting that," Boucher admitted after the game. "You've got two teams that have played tight defense in the playoffs, so I don't think anybody was expecting that. But everybody was expecting was a tight series and it's one to one."
"[In a game like that], t's your breakaway, it my breakaway. It's your two on one, it's my two on one," said Boucher, who saw his team give up a slew of odd-man rushes in the decisive second period.
Boucher wasn't about to lament his team's first loss after scoring the first goal, either.
"Whether we score the first goal or we don't score the first goal, it doesn't change anything," the Tampa bench boss said after the game, before noting that his team's success has come in how they've responded to any and all goals scored.
Still, however, it's a noteworthy blemish, as Bruins coach Claude Julien was quick to point out. "I think we've [come from behind] two, maybe three times now with tonight," Julien noted, saying that while it's not easy to have to claw back into a game, "sometimes it shows your character when you are able to not let those kind of things bring you down and I thought we showed great resilience tonight back in the second period and getting the lead back."
While the Bruins remain a sure thing when they're the first to score (6-0) and when they hold leads at intermission (5-0 when leading after one, 3-0 when leading after two), they're not uncomfortable playing on an even keel, either. In fact, the Bruins are also undefeated in playoff games in which they're tied heading into intermission (2-0 after one, 5-0 after two), and they're now 7-1 in the postseason when being outshot.
Adversity isn't something that the Bruins are unfamiliar with. Maybe it has to do with the injury-plagued 2009-10 season that the core of the team suffered through together. Maybe it has something to do with the leadership of Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi (and, of course, Patrice Bergeron when he returns).
Whatever it is, they seem to handle it well. They handled it well Tuesday night, and look to escape the barren New England spring for warmer pastures with a sunnier disposition, to boot. Seguin's suddenly the hot hand they've been looking for, Bergeron's on the verge of a return and the Lightning's once-certain ability to kick their opposition while they're down is suddenly in question.
The series, as Boucher said, is even.
Just don't tell that to the Bruins. They probably won't believe you.
Read more on the Eastern Conference Final at our Lightning vs. Bruins series hub. Get local coverage on the Bruins at SB Nation Boston and Stanley Cup of Chowder. Get local coverage on the Lightning at Raw Charge and SB Nation Tampa Bay.