It’s said lightning never strikes the same place twice, let alone three times.
Nonetheless, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored three goals in under 90 seconds in the first period, en route to a 5-2 road victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Lightning now lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series 1-0, stealing home ice advantage from the Bruins.
Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark, Teddy Purcell, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Simon Gagne scored for the Lightning. Dominic Moore, Purcell, Clark, Victor Hedman and Martin St. Louis chipped in with assists.
The star of the game was Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 30 saves for his eighth consecutive playoff victory.
Roloson is the first NHL netminder to win eight straight in the playoffs since Jacques Plante in 1969.
The 41-year-old veteran goalie has been his team’s MVP in this year’s playoffs as his .941 save percentage has helped the club improve to 9-3 in the post-season.
Tyler Seguin had a goal and assist for the Bruins, while Chris Kelly scored the other Boston goal. Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Johnny Boychuk drew the Bruins’ assists.
Goalie Tim Thomas turned away 27 shots in a contest that saw him appear both vulnerable and outstanding.
Boston came storming out of the gate as the game began, dishing out big hits and narrowly missing on a number of early scoring chances.
Both teams appeared to be well rested after sweeping their way through the second round, skating at a furious pace in the first period in an electric start to the series.
Bolt’s captain Vincent Lecavalier nearly silenced the building with a clever one-handed try on a breakaway but he was robbed by an acrobatic save from Thomas, inducing booming cheers from the Bruins faithful.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, momentum shifted and Tampa Bay took control in a big way.
Bergenheim struck first for Tampa, shocking the raucous home crowd. The red-hot winger buried his league-leading eighth goal of the playoffs, lifting a loose puck in front of the Boston net into the open goal.
A 2002 first round pick, Bergenheim, who scored just 14 goals in 80 games in the regular season, is enjoying a breakout performance in this year’s playoffs.
Just 19 seconds after the opening goal, Clark walked through the Bruins defence virtually untouched and raised a backhander over the left shoulder of Thomas just under the crossbar.
In a flash, the Lightning had captured a quick 2-0 lead and had the Bruins desperately looking to weather the storm.
Moments later, an atrocious turnover by Boston defenceman Thomas Kaberle behind his own net allowed Purcell to jam a backhander between Thomas’s pad and the left post.
Purcell’s goal was Tampa Bay’s third in a 1:25 span in the first period, giving them a commanding 3-0 lead just 12:40 into the frame.
Vezina Trophy nominee Thomas, who had a .950 save percentage against the Lightning in the regular season, allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first period after looking nearly unbeatable in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers.
On a quest for his first Stanley Cup, the 37-year-old Bruins goaltender had a .937 save percentage and 2.03 goals-against average in the post-season heading into the series with Tampa Bay.
Seguin pulled the score to 3-1 late in the opening frame with a brilliant goal that breathed some life back into the Bruins. The 19-year-old rookie took a pass from Ryder and made a shifty move at the blue line before streaking into the offensive zone and snapping a quick shot past Roloson’s glove hand.
Bergeron restored Tampa Bay’s three goal lead on the power play 13:37 into the third period. The Lightning defenceman’s slapshot wobbled its way past a screened Thomas to give Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead.
Gagne capped off the scoring for the Bolts with an empty-netter at 17:29 of the final period, extending the lead to 5-1 for the visitors.
Kelly was credited with the Bruins final goal on a tip-in goal with 1:01 remaining in the game, cementing the final score at 5-2.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Boston at 7:30 p.m.