After the Bruins failed to convert on a couple early power play chances in the period, another poor clear, this time by the Boston defense, found the puck on Teddy Purcell's stick in the slot, and Purcell beat Thomas to the weak side to make it 3-1.
Just minutes later, Purcell trailed a 3-on-2 and picked up the puck at the top of the face-off circle, blasting it past Thomas to make it a one-goal game.
On the very next shift, Claude Julien put the Patrice Bergeron line back on the ice, and Brad Marchand got his stick high on Steven Stamkos and went to the box. The Bruins killed the penalty, but were unable to match the energy of Tampa after the kill, and Sean Bergenheim got a clean look at the net when Tomas Kaberle abandoned him down low. Bergenheim snuck the puck between Thomas' legs to tie the game.
All period long, Tampa's speed through the neutral zone frustrated the Bruins, who were unable to get the puck into the Lightning's end to establish a forecheck, much less an offensive attack. Miscommunication among the Boston blueliners on their own end of the Tampa blue line led to countless close-range chances for Tampa, which was easily able to get behind the Boston defense.
It was just the kind of letdown that the Bruins were looking to avoid heading into the second period, knowing that they could ice the game away and head back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead. Certainly, they still may, but they'll need to turn the Tampa momentum around just like they did in the first period.
They may be helped by the absence of Steve Downie, who left late in the period after taking a hit from Nathan Horton. Downie went down the tunnel, presumably to the silent room where those who are potentially concussed go, and may not return. The Bolts are already down Dana Tyrell, who had returned to theTampa Bay lineup from an ankle injury, but didn't last long before heading back to the locker room earlier in the game.
Mike Smith still hasn't allowed a goal in the series, after getting time in game two and again this afternoon. The Bruins will need to solve him at least once if they want to have a chance to close out the series in Boston on Monday.