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Relatively inexpensive Bergenheim electrifying for Lightning

by | CBSSports.com
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BOSTON --- Sean Bergenheim, wearing tattered cutoff sweatpants, understandably didn't know the path to the podium here at TD Garden when he emerged from the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room.

Guided by a league public relations person, he took a shortcut -- a far more direct route than his path to stardom in the NHL. The 27-year-old Finn continued a remarkable postseason with a goal in Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday night.

"Well, you know, it's a good feeling but to be honest the best feeling is that we're winning," Bergenheim said. "I'm obviously happy that I've been helping the team but I think it's more of a line effort and our line that's been clicking."

Bruins-Lightning: Game 1
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His goal 11:15 into the first period was his eighth to lead the playoffs -- and that's only six less than he scored during the regular season. Bergenheim chipped the puck past Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who thought he had a prior shot by Dominic Moore smothered.

"You know, that's what we do," Bergenheim said. "We went in on the forecheck and we got the puck in front of the net and scored that way and I think we've actually scored many goals kind of like that one. I think, to be honest, both teams were a little bit rusty, especially in the beginning."

Bergenheim was one of the many clutch pickups by GM Steve Yzerman. After tumultuous stint with the Islanders that included time in the AHL, Finland and Russia, Bergenheim was signed as a free agent last summer. The one-year deal cost the Bolts just $700,000 and he's earned every penny in the playoffs.

"He's part of the mix doing a great job," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "He's one of the hustlers, he's like that all year long. When we have big games, he's been there."

Rust or not, the tally sparked a Tampa Bay run.

Bolts defenseman Brett Clark -- who had no points through the first two rounds -- beat Thomas from a bad angle. A giveaway by Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle behind his own net was tipped in by Teddy Purcell to give the Lightning three goals in the span of a minute, 25 seconds. It was 3-0 and even though rookie Tyler Seguin scored late in the first period, the Bolts' lead was never challenged rest of the game. Marc-Andre Bergeron (power play) and Simon Gagne (empty) put the game out of reach in the third period -- sending disappointed Bruins fans to door and a disgruntled spectator's soda onto the ice.

Coaches and players talked in the nearly two-week buildup to Game 1 about the first goal, the first period. On a team that features Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier, not many would have picked Bergenheim to score if given the choice earlier this season.

He's just found a sweet spot, both in terms of where he places himself on the ice and with the third line alongside Dominic Moore and Ryan Malone.

"Sometimes it's chemistry," Moore said. "We've played a lot together through the year and we've become more comfortable as we learn where each other are. That helps a lot."

Bergenheim played 16 minutes, 54 seconds in Game 1. That's more time in Game 1 than Stamkos, who paced the Bolts in goal scoring in the regular season. Stamkos again had no points tonight and only six through 12 playoff games.

Bruins forward David Krejci said Bergenheim and his line aren't doing anything special.

"I don't think they dominated or anything," Krejci said. "They had one goal off a rebound. We kind of gave it to them. We made a mistake. They buried it yes, but that's what happens in the playoffs."

It's just been happening a lot for Bergenheim.

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