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Bruins show no spark in falling to Lightning

TAMPA -- When Mike Sullivan took over as Bruins coach, he said one of his goals was to help prevent his club from shooting itself in the foot.

That's a lesson the players obviously still need to learn. Last night, they took too many penalties, which Sullivan termed "lazy," allowed the Lightning to wheel around Boston's zone at will, and couldn't find a way to solve goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. It added up to a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Boston gave Tampa Bay seven power plays, and the Lightning capitalized with three man-advantage goals.

"A lot of them could've been avoided," said Sullivan. "I think it was a major factor in the outcome. We've got to be more disciplined. We've just got to make more of a commitment to second efforts. To reach and hook people, in my opinion, is a lazy penalty. We have to move our feet and readdress our angles so we don't have to reach and haul somebody down."

Being shorthanded for so long did more than overtax their penalty killers, it prevented the Bruins from developing any flow and derailed any chance of them sustaining pressure.

"When you get down two goals, three goals, and you keep on getting penalties, you have no chance to come back in the game," said captain Joe Thornton. "With our five on five, I thought we did really well. We've just got to cut down on our penalties. It's tough because you get the momentum back and you feel good and then it comes to a quick halt because you have to kill off a penalty. You want to get that edge on them but when you take a dumb penalty or a silly penalty it backfires on you a little bit."

The first penalty of the game -- for obstruction hooking on Brian Rolston at 1:19 -- resulted in the first Lightning strike. Flashy forward Martin St. Louis dished a centering pass to Cory Stillman, who rapped it past Felix Potvin at 1:54 of the first. It set a Tampa record for the fastest goal in a home opener.

The Lightning added three goals in the middle period -- two on the man-advantage. Their second goal came at even strength, scored by left wing Dmitry Afanasenkov at 2:52.

Center Vincent Lecavalier set up the next score, on the power play. With Bruin Jeff Jillson in the penalty box for high sticking, Lecavalier skated the puck up the right side. He gained the blue line then drove down the right circle, beating Bruins defenseman Hal Gill to the outside. With Stillman trailing him, Lecavalier moved toward the net then one-handed the puck behind him to Stillman in the slot. Stillman's shot ricocheted off the post and past Potvin at 8:05.

Another Bruins' high stick -- this time on Ivan Huml -- led to the Lightning's fourth goal. Just 44 seconds after Huml was whistled off, Brad Richards cashed in at 15:51, giving the home team more than enough offense.

Sullivan elected to lift Potvin in favor of Andrew Raycroft to start the third.

The Bruins ruined Khabibulin's shutout bid with 9:50 remaining when P.J. Axelsson took a centering pass from Mike Knuble and beat Khabibulin from the left circle for his first goal of the season.

Former Bruin Tim Taylor rounded out the scoring for Tampa with his first of the year at 12:33.

In the end, the Bruins' special teams proved their biggest Achilles' heel. They were 0 for 3 on the power play and killed off just 4 of 7 penalties.

"Our penalty killing has to be better," said Sullivan. "Our special teams have to be better. Special teams win and lose you games, and it wasn't good enough. It wasn't good enough the other night against New Jersey and we've got to find a way to be better.

"I thought five on five we carried the play. We had some great scoring chances. We didn't help ourselves with our lack of discipline. We've said from Day One we wanted to be a team that doesn't beat itself, and you can beat yourself in a number of different ways. A lack of discipline ranks right up there as No. 1."

The Bruins' next opportunity comes tonight against the Florida Panthers.

"We'll forget this one very quickly," said Thornton. "It's nice we get to play [tonight]."

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