The Bruins carried play for most of the first, outshooting Tampa Bay, 19-8, but some breakdowns in front of Tuukka Rask  led to two Tampa Bay goals and a 2-1 Lightning lead after one.
Steven Stamkos, streaking down the slot, took a feed from Steve Downie and redirected a pretty shot past Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Replays showed Stamkos appeared to be clearly offsides, which is what Bruins coach Claude Julien  argued in vein from the bench.
Stamkos has 44 goals this season. Only Crosby and Ovechkin – each with 45 – have more.
Vincent Lecavalier faked a slap shot from the top of the left circle only to pass to a rushing Martin St. Louis, who beat Rask with just under two minutes left in the first for a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins finally responded with 26.8 seconds remaining on a 4-on-4 when David Krejci  fed a pinching Zdeno Chara  in front of Niittymaki. Chara put it past the Tampa netminder and the Bruins finally had some life.
The Bruins didn’t let the early goal slow them down. They carried play for much of the first 15 minutes, outshooting Tampa, 11-3.
Marco Sturm  had a mini-breakaway in from the Lightning blue line with five minutes left but Niittymaki again came up big.