BOSTON — For the first time since 1999, the Bruins have begun a season with three consecutive losses.
Boston built a two-goal lead in the first period Monday afternoon but could not sustain it as the Bruins fell to the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lighting 6-3 at TD Garden.
Loui Eriksson scored twice, David Krejci finished with a goal and an assist, and Torey Krug added three helpers in a losing effort.
Everything broke the Bruins’ way for much of the opening period.
The new-look third line of Chris Kelly, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes drew two penalties, and Boston capitalized on both. First, it was Krejci beating Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on a shot from the point that whizzed through a Eriksson screen.
Eriksson then tallied one of his own, hammering one past Bishop off a beautiful feed through traffic by Krug. Krejci was credited with the secondary assist.
The Bruins needed just 18 seconds of power-play time score the first goal and 23 seconds to pot the second.
Boston dominated the period’s first 15 minutes, but the final five belonged to the visitors.
Fourth-liner Brian Boyle brought the Bolts to within one after being left all alone in slot. It was the first time the Hingham, Mass., native had scored against his hometown team in 22 career meetings.
Boyle’s goal primarily was the fault of the defense in front of Tuukka Rask, but Ondrej Palat’s equalizer could be blamed on the goaltender himself. With the Bruins down a man after a Patrice Bergeron penalty, Palat deflected a Tyler Johnson shot right through Rask’s five-hole.
The first period also featured the return of defenseman Zdeno Chara, who provided a calming presence on the Bruins’ embattled blue line. He also let rip a scorching slap shot in the frame’s final minute that was gloved by Bishop.
The ups and downs of David Pastrnak were on full display early in the second.
The good: Pastrnak picked the pocket of Lightning star Steven Stamkos, and the Bruins earned a power play when Krejci was hooked a few moments later.
The bad: Shortly after said power play expired, the 19-year-old gave the puck away to Boyle at the blue line, then was manhandled as the 6-foot-7 winger took it the length of the ice for his second goal of the game.
Boston made sure its next power-play chance did not go to waste, however, with Eriksson redirecting a Krejci shot past Bishop to tie the game at 3-3.
It was not a banner day for either team’s penalty-killing unit. Stamkos notched his 500th NHL point by beating Rask on the power play just three minutes after Eriksson’s second tally.
Stamkos’ was the second Lightning goal to come with Bergeron, one of the Bruins’ best penalty-killers, in the box.
Jonathan Drouin provided the dagger for the Lightning, beating Rask stick-side for Tampa Bay’s fifth goal of the contest. Drouin’s shot might have been slightly redirected on its way to the net, but it still was one Rask typically stops.
Valttteri Filppula closed out the scoring in the win, the Lightning’s first at the Garden since March 25, 2010.
Rask finished with 17 saves. He has allowed 14 goals on 91 shots through the Bruins’ first three games.
The Bruins hit the road for the first time this season, visiting the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
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