TAMPA - Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle had just played in - and lost - the biggest game of his life: Tuesday's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. His bad night was about to get worse.
Less than hour after the game, Boyle was called into coach John Tortorella's office by team captain Dave Andreychuk.
"They just told me my house was on fire," Boyle said. "I was like, "My house is on fire? What the hell is going on?' I thought it was some kind of a joke, but it's reality."
Boyle's South Tampa home caught fire Tuesday night while the Lightning was losing to the Flames 4-1.
No one was inside when the electrical fire broke out in the first-floor game room, and no firefighters were injured putting it out. But the blaze caused $300,000 in damage to the 3,000-square-foot two-story home Boyle bought in late 2002 for $365,000.
Boyle's wardrobe and hockey mementos were destroyed or damaged in the fire, which left the home uninhabitable for at least six months.
"(The puck from) my first NHL goal was in a little casing. That one kind of hurt a little bit," Boyle said. "It's still going to be all right, I think, but it's a little burnt up. That was probably the biggest thing."
Boyle, 27, also lost the Panthers jersey he wore in his first game as well as autographed sticks and posters. "It's just a house," Boyle said. "Nobody got hurt, and that's the main thing. My folks were down for two months up until the playoffs started, so I can be thankful that they weren't there or I wasn't there sleeping at night. So it could've been a lot worse."
The Lightning trailed 3-1 when the firefighters at Station 14 in Palma Ceia got the call at 10:33 p.m. that forced them away from the television. They hurried to the fire in Audubon Park, a seven-home cul-de-sac on a private South Tampa street, West Heron Lane.
Firefighters arrived at 10:39 p.m. and saw flames crawling up the east side of the house into the second floor and attic. It took more than a dozen firefighters, three fire engines and a ladder truck from three fire stations to extinguish the blaze.
Once it was under control, they started walking through the house trying to get the smoke out.
They found out an hour later it was the home of the defenseman they had been cheering just minutes earlier.
"We saw all this hockey stuff and thought, "Wow! This is a big hockey fan,"' Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Ken Licata said. "Then we found out who it was, and we thought, "Wow. This is a bad night."'
The electrical fire started in the game room, where Boyle kept his hockey mementos. Then the flames crawled up a wall and spread "like a mushroom," Licata said.
Tuesday's game ended at about 10:45, but Boyle wasn't told of the fire until an hour later.
"When somebody tells you your house is on fire, a lot of things go through your mind," Boyle said.
Boyle showered, dressed and raced home. He said he could smell the smoke three blocks away from his house as he approached in his car.
"I didn't even know where to start," Boyle said. "I had so many questions."
The master bedroom and bathroom were destroyed, and the entire house is damaged by smoke and water from the fire rescue hoses, Licata said.
"There's damage in the attic, the rafters. It'll all have to be removed," fire rescue spokesman Capt. Bill Wade said. "The roof might need to be replaced."
Neighbor Maria Lorenzo was watching the game when she heard sirens outside.
"It's so scary to see that," Lorenzo said. "We offered to let him sleep here, you know, because he is such a sweetheart. And so handsome!"
Boyle spent the night in a hotel but only after trying to put order back into his life.
Arriving at about midnight, Boyle stayed until after 3 a.m. along with Sean Henry, the Lightning's executive vice president and chief operating officer, and team spokesman Bill Wickett. The three moved Boyle's belongings to other rooms.
Boyle expects to be in a hotel for the next several weeks but likely will spend most of the summer in Fort Lauderdale, where he has another home.
Wednesday morning, it was hard to tell there had been a fire at the home. From the front, the house looked like all the others on the quiet, affluent street. But the side of the house was charred and covered with plywood where flames burned holes through the first floor and up to the roof.
The burnt smell hung in the air around the house.
By Wednesday afternoon, Boyle said he was ready to think about hockey again.
"It's fine," Tortorella said. "That's just a bunch of wood burning. No one hurt. There was nothing serious that happened. His insurance will take care of it. Whatever the insurance doesn't take care of, I am sure he has enough money to spend and take care of himself."
Boyle, who earned $2.3-million this season, said he plans on rebuilding the home.
"They told me six months from now everything will be back to normal," Boyle said. "It's just going to be a long summer, unfortunately, but it'll be a lot better if we can win this thing."
The firefighters who put out the flames couldn't agree more.
In a news release sent out Wednesday morning, Capt. Wade wrote: "The fire department hopes and wishes that Mr. Boyle can get past this personal tragedy and be ready to focus on Game 2 Thursday night."