BOSTON (AP)—The Boston Bruins gave Claude Julien a victory in his Boston debut. Maybe they can give him one he’ll be proud of next time.
“It wasn’t a pretty win,” Julien said after the Bruins beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in their home opener on Thursday night. “Certainly not to the expectations that we want.”
Marco Sturm scored two goals and Tim Thomas made 35 saves for Boston, which has won four of five since opening the season with a loss. Mark Stuart scored his first career goal, and Peter Schaefer also scored for Boston.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 19 shots for Tampa Bay, and Brad Richards scored the Lightning’s only goal. The line of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal, which had 17 points in the last four games, did not score Thursday night.
“Richards, Prospal, Lecavalier and St. Louis … it doesn’t get more difficult than that,” Thomas said. “We came in after the second period and got a good talking to, and it was a feeling of shame on me after how we played.”
The Bruins acquired Manny Fernandez from Minnesota over the offseason to shore up the goaltending after Thomas and Hannu Toivonen couldn’t get the team into the playoffs last season. But Thomas has allowed five goals in four games and could be taking control of the No. 1 job.
“He was the difference,” St. Louis said. “Our effort was there, but we just couldn’t get that second goal.”
Thomas was especially strong in the second period, holding Tampa Bay scoreless as it outshot Boston 15-3.
“We outplayed them in the second period, but Thomas made a lot of good saves and looked sharp,” Richards said.
It’s been a good start for the team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 1999 and has gone through five coaches in 4 1/2 years, one of them a season lost to the lockout.
The Bruins sold 16,363 tickets for the game, though many fans opted to stay away and watch Game 5 of the AL championship series. One of the biggest cheers of the night was when the scoreboard showed the Red Sox taking the lead over Cleveland; the crowd also applauded when it was announced that Joe Torre would not be back to manage the New York Yankees.
An early fight between Milan Lucic and Nick Tarnasky got the crowd going, and the Bruins took the lead 3:48 into the game when Andrew Ference kept the puck in the Tampa Bay zone and sent a slap shot off Schaefer’s knee past Holmqvist.
“If the team wins, fans will come. They also need to be entertaining, and physical,” owner Jeremy Jacobs said before the game. “We have a load of talent here—don’t miss that. Look at the payroll, there better be.”
Richards put back a rebound from Thomas’ right side to make it 2-1 at the 1:45 mark in the second. But the Bruins got some insurance in the third when Chuck Kobasew brought the puck over the blue line and dropped it to Marc Savard, who crossed it over to Stuart for the goal.
Sturm scored with 3:41 left to make it 4-1.
The Bruins have beaten Tampa Bay five straight times and are 20-2-6 against the Lightning at home. … The Lightning had no minor penalties in the game. … NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in the building.