By Danny Picardand Joe Haggerty
BOSTON -- It's not hard to figure out that David Krejci had a better night than Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith in Boston's 8-1 win on Thursday at the TD Garden.
Smith made two costly errors on harmless Bruins dump-ins during the second period, which led to two goals. Meanwhile, Krejci scored two goals of his own, with his second giving the Bruins a 5-1 lead just 34 seconds into the third period and knocking Smith out of the game, long after he probably should have been pulled.
Bruins forward Marc Savard got a standing ovation in the first period, in his first game since last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals, but the ovation for Smith may have been louder, as his pair of blunders told the story of two completely different teams on Thursday night.After Krejci gave the B's a 1-0 lead midway through the first, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg made it 2-0 on a harmless dump-in from the neutral zone that just so happened to be put on net. Smith reacted as if Seidenberg was preparing for a dump-in along the right boards, and skated behind the net to retrieve a puck that wasn't there, and instead, was on its way into an empty net.
Milan Lucic made it 3-0 in the second period. Nearly 10 minutes later, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman scored Tampa Bay's only goal of the game, with 4:46 left in the second period, to cut Boston's lead to 3-1.
But Smith made his second blunder of the game minutes later, after he misplayed a Brad Marchand dump-in down into the left corner. Marchand's fluttering puck bounced off the boards in the left corner and out front, over the stick of Smith, who was to the side of the net, trying to retrieve it. The puck came out to the goal line, and Hedman couldn't get it out before Shawn Thornton hustled in and knocked it into the net for the 4-1 lead.
Krejci knocked Smith out of the game just 34 seconds into the third after he skated down the right wing and snapped a shot top-right, which deflected off the blade of Randy Jones' stick before it beat Smith.
Michael Ryder, Mark Recchi, and Blake Wheeler each scored in the third for the 8-1 final.
GOLD STAR: It was Marc Savard's return to the Garden amid ovations and a warm welcome, but David Krejci was the center who showed why he's become the No. 1 pivot in Boston. Krejci scored a pair of goals in his strongest game yet since coming back from a concussion, and led a revival of the B's top line, which finished with six points and a plus-11 in the blowout victory. Krejci finished with a team-high three points, two goals and won 12-of-15 face-offs in a dominant performance. BLACK EYE: Mike Smith. Avert your eyes from that kind of goaltending because it's grotesque. Twice Smith was caught wandering around his net, and was completely faked out on a dump-in attempt by Dennis Seidenberg for a big goal in the second period that pushed Boston's advantage. Smith was finally, mercifully yanked in the third period in favor of Dan Ellis, but the rout was on by that point. Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman may come to regret not making a push for Tim Thomas when he could have had him over the summer. TURNING POINT: The Lightning took advantage of a broken Johnny Boychuk stick to break in the other direction with the puck, and Victor Hedman scored a goal that made it a 3-1 game in the second period. The Bruins answered right back two minutes later when Smith and Hedman fumbled away an exchange, and a hustling Shawn Thornton managed to push the puck in for his fifth goal of the season. BY THE NUMBERS: 15:45 the ice time for Marc Savard, who admitted he was a bit fatigued toward the end of some 45-second shifts. Savard showed flashes throughout the game, however, and there was one shift when Savard and Tyler Seguin together showed some of the creativity and offensive potential they might hold together. Savard said that Seguin's speed and shooting ability could give him a Phil Kessel-like dynamic to pair with, and that's all the clever playmaker needs to start piling up the points. QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not above my pay-grade because we make more than the coaches, but trades are not my area. I have no idea what's going on. All I know is that everybody in here likes and supports Marco." Tim Thomas when asked what he knew about the Marco Sturm tradeno-trade situation. INJURY UPDATE: Brad Marchand took a hard hit from Mattias Ohlund in the corner that shook up the little sparkplug winger, and he was hunched over as he skated toward the bench in the second period. But Marchand didn't appear any worse for the wear after the game.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
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Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard