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Lightning strikes sap power from Bruins

TAMPA -- Every time the Bruins appear to have plugged a leak, another one springs open.


Sometimes it has been poor play in their own zone, sometimes a lack of offense, sometimes shoddy performances in the neutral zone. Last night, the Bruins found a whole new way to fail. They gave up three shorthanded goals to the Tampa Bay Lightning on their way to a 4-2 defeat.

The holiday roster freeze is over and you can expect the Bruins to do something now that they have run their winless streak to six (0-4-2-0) and have only two victories in their last 17 games (2-8-6-1).

"Our power play didn't get it done," said coach Mike Sullivan. "Not only did we not get it done, but we cost our team on the other end. We knew this team tries to score killing penalties. We know they cheat on the penalty kill and not only could we not exploit it, but we didn't come back with the urgency we needed to. I'm certainly not happy about it, I'll tell you that. We're trying to move this thing in the right direction and when we make mental mistakes out there, it's inexcusable."

Offense also continues to be a problem. Over the past 17 games, the Bruins have scored 34 goals, an average of just two per contest.

"Tonight was kind of a different way to lose," said left wing Mike Knuble. "Three shorthanded against, that's unprecedented for our power-play units. It seems like it's a different way for something else to go wrong in a game. If it's not one thing, it seems to be another."

The Lightning scored one shorthanded goal in the opening period and two in the second. The first came at 18:05 of the first when center Vincent Lecavalier, who was benched for a good portion of the final period of the clubs' 1-1 tie Tuesday at the FleetCenter, potted his 12th of the year.

Lecavalier had tried to set up a goal by centering a pass to right wing Martin St. Louis in front of goalie Andrew Raycroft. St. Louis shot a backhander at the net and with two Bruins trying to stop it in front, Lecavalier got to the loose puck and fired it in from the right circle.

The next one came at 5:28 of the second, tallied by St. Louis. Defenseman Nick Boynton tried to wrap the puck up the boards, but it was intercepted by St. Louis. He teed up a slapper from the left circle and it hit Boynton and deflected past Raycroft.

The Lightning made it 3-0 at 16:15 on St. Louis's second of the night. This time it was a breakaway as St. Louis charged down the slot and beat Raycroft to the stick side.

The Lightning reported it was the first time in franchise history the club had scored three shorthanded goals in a game.

The Bruins chipped away at the lead, scoring the next two goals to pull within one. At 17:58 of the second period, forward Rob Zamuner, who is a former Tampa Bay captain and had the Bruins' lone goal Tuesday, got Boston on the board.

Right wing Glen Murray, who had one goal in his previous five games, closed the gap at 1:32 of the third. Left wing P.J. Axelsson backhanded the puck at the net and Murray collected it and beat goalie John Grahame with a backhander to the short side.

The Bruins got into penalty trouble later in the period when right wing Marty Lapointe was assessed a five-minute match penalty (intent to injure) for high sticking Lightning defenseman Brad Lukowich in the head at 12:10, giving Tampa Bay a five-minute power play and all but taking Boston out of the game. Sullivan said he didn't think the play warranted such a severe penalty.

"But that's how the ref saw it," the coach said.

Brad Richards sealed the victory with a goal with 59 seconds remaining. There were no long explanations needed after this one. Everyone in the Bruins' room knew exactly why they lost.

"The difference in the game was the power play, without a doubt," said Sullivan. "It's as simple as that."

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