Tyler Seguin is making the most of his infrequent opportunities.
Boston’s 19-year-old rookie — a healthy scratch in the playoffs until debuting and scoring in Saturday’s Game 1 loss — tallied two goals and two assists to lead the Boston Bruins past the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.
The best-of-seven series is now knotted at one and heads to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.
Michael Ryder also had a pair of goals for the Bruins, while Nathan Horton and David Krejci each added one.
Steven Stamkos, Adam Hall, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Dominic Moore replied for the Bolts, who failed to win after scoring the game’s opening goal for the first time this post-season.
Heading into Game 2, the main story for the Bruins surrounded Patrice Bergeron, the team’s top two-way centre, who participated in his first full practice on Monday due to a concussion on May 6 but remained unavailable for Tuesday’s game.
Bergeron was Boston’s top playoff performer with 12 points before sustaining the injury in the final game of the Bruins’ second-round series with Philadelphia.
Tim Thomas made 36 saves for Boston, while Dwayne Roloson (pulled after two periods) and Mike Smith combined to turn aside 29 shots for the fifth-seeded Lightning.
Down 2-1 after one, the Bruins flew out of the gate in the second, playing like a team determined not to fall behind by two games on home ice.
Tying the game at two was Seguin, who made a beautiful deke to beat Roloson on a breakaway at 2:53 of the second period.
Boston’s offence was clicking and less than two minutes after Seguin’s equalizer, Krejci converted on a Dennis Seidenberg cross-crease pass to put the Bruins ahead 3-2.
The Bruins were showing their prowess on both ends. After Thomas made a spectacular pad save on Ryan Malone’s breakaway, Horton and Seguin went the other way on a 2-on-1 break, resulting in Seguin’s second of the game, extending the lead to 4-2.
After a late-period letdown in the first, Boston had roared back with three-straight markers in the first seven minutes of the second period.
Shortly after falling behind by two, Lecavalier cut the deficit to one on the power play with a dull slapshot that questionably beat Thomas five-hole at 7:48 of the second.
At 16:16, the Bruins regained their two-goal lead on the power play. Ryder picked up a rebound in front of the Tampa goal and lifted a backhand into the top corner over the shoulder of Roloson.
Ryder scored his second of the game, extending the Boston lead to 6-3, with 19 seconds remaining in the period. Again, Ryder was awarded for crashing the crease, burying a Seguin rebound that had squirted loose in the blue paint.
Stamkos’ fifth of the playoffs at 3:47 of the third cut the Boston lead to 6-4 and with the game seemingly out of reach, Moore found the back of the net during a mad scramble that resulted in a mask-less Thomas, making it a one-goal game at 13:15.
Ultimately, Tampa came up just short as Thomas was able to thwart the Lightning’s late surge.
Just after puck drop, one couldn’t be blamed for believing Game 2 was headed for the same fate as the series opener, when Tampa recorded three goals in an 85-second span of the first period.
The Lightning struck just 13 seconds into the first, when a deflected wrist shot took a quirky bounce off the boards behind the Bruins goal, resurfaced back in front, and landed on the stick of Hall, who slid a backhand into the open net with Thomas helplessly out of position.
After opening the scoring, the Lightning were back on their heels as the Bruins applied several minutes of relentless pressure, ultimately forcing Tampa coach Guy Boucher to call a timeout, giving his players a much-needed breather.
Despite dominating the even-strength play, Boston continued to flounder on the power play. After failing to convert on three first-period Tampa penalties, the Bruins owned a 2-for-44-playoff power play.
Boston did not score a single man-up goal in the seven games of its opening-round series with the Montreal Canadiens.
Roloson was outstanding early on as Boston peppered him with close-range chances, including Milan Lucic from point-blank range on a failed 5-on-3 power play.
Finally, at 13:58 of the first, with one second remaining on Hall’s roughing penalty, the Bruins tied the game 1-1, when Horton redirected Seidenberg’s point shot past Roloson.
But just seven seconds before intermission, the Lightning made it a 2-1 game when Stamkos, using a blind-backhand pass, found St. Louis in front for a tip-in.
Notes: Heading into the contest, Boston was 4-3 at home in the playoffs, after going 22-13-6 at TD Garden in the regular season … The Bruins are 0-2 in the conference finals since advancing to the Stanley Cup final in 1990 … Tampa Bay is making its first appearance in the conference finals since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 … Sean Bergenheim leads all Lightning players with eight post-season goals.