"Richards, Prospal, Lecavalier and St. Louis ... it doesn't get more difficult than that," Thomas said. "We came in after the second period and got a good talking to, and it was a feeling of shame on me after how we played."
The Bruins acquired Manny Fernandez from Minnesota over the offseason to shore up the goaltending after Thomas and Hannu Toivonen couldn't get the team into the playoffs last season. But Thomas has allowed five goals in four games and could be taking control of the No. 1 job.
"He was the difference," St. Louis said. "Our effort was there, but we just couldn't get that second goal."
Thomas was especially strong in the second period, holding Tampa Bay scoreless as it outshot Boston 15-3.
"We outplayed them in the second period, but Thomas made a lot of good saves and looked sharp," Richards said.
It's been a good start for the team that hasn't won a playoff series since 1999 and has gone through five coaches in 4½ years, one of them a season lost to the lockout.
The Bruins sold 16,363 tickets for the game, though many fans opted to stay away and watch Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. One of the biggest cheers of the night was when the scoreboard showed the Red Sox taking the lead over Cleveland; the crowd also applauded when it was announced that Joe Torre would not be back to manage the New York Yankees.
An early fight between Milan Lucic and Nick Tarnasky got the crowd going, and the Bruins took the lead 3:48 into the game when Andrew Ference kept the puck in the Tampa Bay zone and sent a slap shot off Schaefer's knee past Holmqvist.
"If the team wins, fans will come. They also need to be entertaining and physical," owner Jeremy Jacobs said before the game. "We have a load of talent here -- don't miss that. Look at the payroll, there better be."
Richards put back a rebound from Thomas' right side to make it 2-1 at the 1:45 mark in the second. But the Bruins got some insurance in the third when Chuck Kobasew brought the puck over the blue line and dropped it to Marc Savard, who crossed it over to Stuart for the goal.
Sturm scored with 3:41 left to make it 4-1.
The Bruins have beaten Tampa Bay five straight times and are 20-2-6 against the Lightning at home. ... The Lightning had no minor penalties in the game. ... NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game with a cast on his left arm. Asked whether he had dropped the gloves against one of the league's enforcers, Bettman said he actually had tendon surgery on Monday. He then joked, "It's a result of reporters asking (stupid) questions."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: TD Garden Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Referees: Kerry Fraser, Dave Jackson Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Brad Kovachik
Attendance: 16,363 (93.2% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Peter Schaefer (1)
Assist: Andrew Ference
Marco Sturm (2)
Assists: Andrew Ference, Patrice Bergeron
Brad Richards (3)
Assist: Mike Lundin
Mark Stuart (1)
Assists: Marc Savard, Chuck Kobasew
Marco Sturm (3)
Assists: Patrice Bergeron, Glen Murray