BOSTON, MA - With the Bruins up 3-1 over New Jersey after the first period on Saturday night, the Black & Gold saw their lead slip away thanks to four power-play goals from the Devils, including two in the final 1:08.
The 4-3 loss snapped their four game winning streak and marked the first time the Bruins had allowed four goals on the man advantage since January 7, 2012, in a 4-3 loss to Vancouver.
A somber B's locker room following the game was diplomatic and swift with their postgame interviews, clearly wanting to put the toughest defeat of the season quickly in the past.
But not before holding themselves accountable.
"It’s been definitely a while, and definitely something that can’t happen," said Patrice Bergeron, on the power-play goals allowed by one of the league's top penalty kills, which was killing at a rate of 87.5 percent and had only allowed three scores through the first nine games.
"We’ve got to do a better job."
New Jersey's tying goal with 1:08 left in regulation from Marek Zidlicky came off a 6-on-3. Bergeron had been called for delay of game, marking the second goal scored off that penalty in the game. Damien Brunner had made it a 3-2 at the 19:32 mark of the second, with Zdeno Chara in the box.
The game-winner came with just 45 seconds left, off a fanned one-timer from Andy Greene.
Krug had started the game off with his fourth goal of the season. He was then on the ice for New Jersey's first two power-play goals, before sitting in the box with a four-minute high-sticking penalty that he was assessed with 3:15 left in the game after going to battle with Brunner.
At that point, the Bruins had been maintaining their 3-2 lead.
"Well, they did a good job. At the same time, we've got to do better and do a better job at clearing pucks out and winning battles," said Krug of what didn't go according to plan on the PK.
"I was out there for two of those goals and we should have done a better job and winning battles and clearing pucks."
"Our penalty kill obviously tonight faltered and wasn’t good enough; when you allow four power-play goals in a game that’s not a good sign for a win," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the loss. "So that certainly didn’t help."
"Obviously we had the lead, and we had momentum, and we let it slip by," added Bergeron. "So we definitely let this one get away from us."
Both as a team, and personally, the Bruins voiced their disappointment.
Bergeron, like Krug, stood in front of reporters and answered questions about the delay of game penalty he took late, with the Bruins shorthanded.
It's a typical bank clear he makes on the penalty kill, but the puck airmailed off the glass and into the stands.
"It’s one of those plays that you want to get it all the way down and I thought I was closer to the wall," said the alternate captain. "It’s one of those plays that I make basically every time, but I went a little too hard on that one, a little too high, and I take full responsibility of that play."
"It is part of the game, and I know that, so I’ve got to make that play. It’s one of those things that you can’t really be mad about the rule when it happens to you, you’ve just got to do your job, and it does happen. The same thing happens for us, getting the five-on-three, we’re happy, so you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to do your job and that’s it."
The loss marked the first time Tuukka Rask had allowed more than three goals all season, though the man advantage, especially a 6-on-3, isn't necessarily a goaltender's favorite situation.
"Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that," said Rask. "They just—they ripped us apart. I don’t know if they were that good or if we were just not on top of our PK. Some weird goals there but no excuses."
"You’re leading by two at the end of the first, you should definitely have everything under control and then we just let up a little bit and someone lets one goal gain and it’s anybody’s game."
Rask is obviously never pleased when he gives up goals, but the emotion visibly came out on New Jersey's second goal that squeaked by his arm on the stick side. He thought he may have had it, before looking back to see the puck on the side of the net, and then batting it into the air towards center ice with his frustration.
"Yeah you’re kind of there but then it hits your toe and it’s barely in, then what do you do?"
Send it as far away from the goal as possible.
"We were due for some good fortune," Devils Head Coach Peter DeBoer said postgame. "We haven’t had a lot of it through the first 10 or 11 games."
New Jersey came into the Garden with a 1-5-4 record on the season, though many of them one-goal games.
"We kept chipping away and like I said, we were due for some good luck."
"I think it was one of the nights," said Iginla, who potted his second goal of the season. "I think they have a 6-on-3, you know, for a minute-and-a-half or two minutes. It’s a good chance. You want to kill it, but they had a good screen and they put a puck right in the top corner. That was a good shot."
"The next one, he fanned on it and fanned it over right to him, right on his stick. Their power play worked hard and they had a good night, but I think it was more one of those nights. Our PK has been good this year. Tonight, we got beat there, but it was more, I think on the PK, one of those nights where the bounces weren’t as good as we would’ve liked."
"Unfortunately, we just got into some penalty trouble near the end and they capitalized. It definitely stings when we feel like we could’ve had that game and it got away from us.
Despite the final three minutes of regulation, the Bruins felt they had played a strong enough third period with the 3-2 lead, gaining zone time, skating and creating chances.
"They kept pushing on us but I think we were on our heels way too much," said Bergeron. "And we’ve said it before, in a game, that they’re a solid team that keeps going on you and going on the forecheck, and they did what we were expecting we just didn’t match it."
It marked only the 11th Bruins loss after holding a two-goal lead since the 2010-11 season. Entering the game, their record when holding a two-goal lead had been 96-4-6.
"Yeah it’s dangerous," said Rask, of the infamous type of lead. "When you’re up by a two-goal lead it’s the worst one because you kind of feel good about your game but then all of the sudden that one mistake is in your net and then it’s a one goal game and you kind of start squeezing your stick."
"So, it’s tough but we should know better and we should know how to handle these kind of games. Getting these two power plays at the end is kind of bad luck too but still, no excuses."
The game had been set up for the Bruins' top line of David Krejci, Lucic and Iginla to steal the show again, with two goals and four assists to add to their 25 points entering game No. 10 on the season.
"To me, tonight we had one line going and we needed more," said Julien. "It just wasn’t good enough. We had the day off yesterday to give those guys a rest but three games in four nights isn’t always an easy thing to go through and you wish you could have pulled this one through and had a real good week but unfortunately that wasn’t the case."
"We have to regroup, and another back-to-back and another three in four coming up there next week so hopefully we learn from that."
The Bruins first face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on October 30, before hosting the Anaheim Ducks on October 31 and then traveling to play the New York Islanders on November 2.
Boston will aim to correct its second period woes from Saturday night, and play the full 60 minutes that they so often focus on.
"They came up faster. I don’t know if we were prepared for that or whatever the case may be we didn’t play our style in the second period and they took it to us," said Krug, who always holds himself accountable, but was clearly one of the most frustrated in the locker room postgame.
"Once again, try to do a better job."
"You can never take anything for granted in this league and we were on the bad side of it this time and in our own building we had the lead in the third period, we have got to close out games.
"So we have got to do a better job, once again."
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