BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are playing so well that they're starting to concentrate on what goes wrong in their victories.
The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the only thing most of the players wanted to talk about afterward was how they didn't play well after the opening period.
Zdeno Chara had a power-play goal in the second period and P.J. Axelsson added an empty-netter to help the Bruins win their fifth straight.
"We're not playing the way we usually play against teams," Chara said. "Just because we worked hard in the first period -- we played a little too comfortable, I guess. Maybe we're a little too confident."
Boston, which scored twice on the power play, entered with the league's best scoring percentage at home with the man advantage.
The Bruins, 10-1-1 at the TD Banknorth Garden this season, didn't waste much time taking control. With Tampa Bay defenseman Phil Ranger off for slashing, Lucic, positioned at the top of the crease, redirected Dennis Wideman's pass by goaltender Mike Smith at 6:44.
The Bruins made it 2-0 when Kessel's shot caromed off Ranger's stick and behind Smith at 9:29. Ryder scored on a wrist shot from the left circle only 1:17 later.
Tampa Bay called timeout to regroup after Boston's fast start, and the Bruins might have relaxed.
"Maybe. It does matter. It shouldn't," Wideman said of a possible letdown. "That's something that shouldn't happen. You look at the elite teams like Detroit, when they get leads like that they keep coming at you."
Boston coach Claude Julien agreed.
"Once we got a comfortable lead, we decided to get cute," Julien said.
"I don't know if we're a dumb team or we just don't get it, or we don't deserve to be in this league," Smith said. "I mean, we're making the same mistakes we talk about, game in and game out."
The schedule doesn't get any easier the next few weeks for Tampa Bay, which plays six of its next seven at home.
"To me, it's an embarrassment when you have more than three or four individuals not ready to play," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said.
Szczechura scored with 17.2 seconds left after the Lightning pulled Smith for an extra skater, but Axelsson sealed it with 10 seconds left.
Kessel extended his point streak to 12 games (10 goals, five assists), the longest active in the league.
Thomas, who entered the night with a league-best 1.83 goals-against average, made 26 saves and improved to 8-1-1 in his past 10 starts.
One of the few bright spots for Tampa Bay was a spectacular save by Smith on Axelsson's second-period penalty shot.
Axelsson cut extremely wide, going near his own bench, skated in and attempted to fake out Smith, who reached back and made a glove stop on a backhand shot just before the puck crossed the red line.
With the Bruins skating with a two-man advantage, Chara one-timed a rising shot inside the right post with 1:17 left in the second.
|Boston's David Krejci introduces Tampa Bay's Andrej Meszaro to his teammates in the second period. (AP)|
|Tampa Bay (6-13-8)||0||1||2||3|
|Boston (19-4-4) «||3||1||1||5|
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|06:44||Power Play - Milan Lucic (7), Slap Shot. Assist: Wideman, Kessel|
|09:29||Phil Kessel (17), Snap Shot, Unassisted.|
|10:46||Michael Ryder (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Hnidy, Hunwick|
|13:06||Adam Hall (2), Backhand Shot. Assist: Artyukhin, Ranger|
|18:43||Power Play - Zdeno Chara (5), Slap Shot. Assist: Krejci, Wideman|
|09:27||Vincent Lecavalier (11), Tip-In. Assist: St. Louis, Ranger|
|19:42||Paul Szczechura (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Malik, Meszaros|
|19:50||P.J. Axelsson (1), Empty Net. Assist: Bergeron|
|02:55||Stamkos, 2 min, Holding the Stick|
|05:00||Ranger, 2 min, Slashing|
|45.0||Kobasew, 2 min, Interference|
|04:01||Artyukhin, 2 min, Hooking|
|09:25||Savard, 2 min, Hooking|
|09:32||St. Louis, 2 min, Holding|
|17:13||Downie, 2 min, Roughing|
|18:01||Jokinen, 2 min, Holding|
|02:55||Krejci, 2 min, Hooking|
|05:38||Krejci, 2 min, Interference|
|10:21||Malik, 2 min, Interference|
|Shots On Goal|
|Power Play Conversions|
|Attendance - 16973|
|Referees - Kyle Rehman, Eric Furlatt|
|Linesmen - Michel Cormier, Mark Shewchyk|