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Toivonen shines in first start, leads Bruins past Lightning

Oct 8, 2006 - 2:26 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Hannu Toivonen returned with a bang for the Boston Bruins.

Toivonen stopped 29 shots in his first start of the season as the Bruins held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boston's first-round selection in the 2002 draft, Toivonen showed flashes of brilliance in 2005-06 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in January.

The goaltender did not get the start in Friday's season-opening 8-3 loss to Florida but made a case for the job a day later, turning aside 14 shots in the second period and stopping all seven shots he faced in the final session.

"He loves a great challenge and rises to those challenges," Bruins first-year coach Dave Lewis said of Toivonen. "Early on, he made some key saves on a couple of breakaways to keep us hanging in there."

The Bruins capitalized on a crucial error and took the lead for good 99 seconds into the third period, when Brad Boyes intercepted a clearing attempt deep in offensive zone and sent a perfect cross pass to Patrice Bergeron, who banged in his first goal of the season from the doorstep.

"Brad just made a great play off a turnover, and we took advantage of it," Bergeron said. "We played with a lot of intensity and we were definitely fired up from the get-go."

"Anytime you've got a great guy like (Bergeron) on your line, you want to find him some way," Boyes added. "We put it on the line tonight and got big results."

Boyes also tallied in the opening period and defenseman Zdeno Chara added a pair of assists. Rookie Phil Kessel, the fifth overall pick in June, recorded an assist for his first career point for Boston, which successfully killed all six of its penalties.

"I like the fact we played hard and won a close game against a very good team," Lewis said. "We had to come in to their home opener after losing and get a true measure of where we stand as a team. We found out tonight."

Signed to a massive five-year, $37.5 million deal in the offseason, Chara has four assists in his first two games with the Bruins.

"You've got to love coming in here in their home opener and getting a tough win," he said. "It's one of those games that you know is going to already be tough, especially at their place and after the loss we suffered. But the guys rose to the occasion and played tough in every phase."

"He is a big, physical guy that loves to play exactly that way," Lewis said of his captain. "We need that toughness out of him, and he gives us that intensity all the time."

Marc Denis stopped 22 shots and Ryan Craig scored his team-leading third goal for Tampa Bay, which is just 1-for-13 on the power play over its first two games this season.

"We battled back, but we need to find that intensity," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We don't have enough guys battling and fighting to put it all on the line."

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