It was as though the first game back for Patrice Bergeron had been the hockey equivalent of a lunar probe, an opportunity for the 25-year-old center to check out atmospheric conditions .?.?. stretch out the legs .?.?. work a little on the shot.

And the results were good. Bergeron displayed the hustle, the two-way play, the deftness with which he turns practically every faceoff into something brewin' for the Bruins.

That was in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals when Bergeron returned Thursday after suffering a concussion in the last game of the team's four-game, second-round sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. But yesterday was different. Yesterday was when Patrice Bergeron made the cosmic leap from lunar probe to fully armed and operational battle station.

True, the final score was a disaster for the Bruins. After taking a three-goal, first-period lead against the Lightning in Game 4 yesterday at the St. Pete Times Forum, they pretty much snoozed away the rest of the day as Tampa Bay emerged with a 5-3 victory.

But earlier in the day, it was Bergeron, more than anyone, who fired up the Bruins on offense with a pair of first-period goals.

For the record, Bergeron was as miserable as anyone when the game was finished. But, yes, absolutely, he was happy about the goals.

"It does feel good to score," he said. "You're trying to help, but you want to win. That's the key. And tonight I'm not satisfied."

The first of Bergeron's two scores won't be edited into anybody's DVD collection (call now, operators are standing by) of "Greatest Goals in History."

About halfway through the first period he happened to be in the neighborhood when Lightning defenseman Brett Clark lost the puck behind his own net — think Tomas Kaberle in Game 1. Bergeron picked it up, punched it past Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson, and the Bruins had a 1-0 lead.