BostonBruins.com - For the second straight game, the Bruins found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
But unlike in Anaheim, when the Bruins came out with a dominant start and found a sustained effort, they never found their spark agains the Kings on Thursday night, falling 4-2 at STAPLES Center.
"It took us a period and a half to get going," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame, making the quick differentiation between the two efforts.
"Certainly not the same scenario from start to finish, and, again, puck management, missed assignments, those kinds of things are going to end up costing you, and we're getting exposed in those areas right now where we've got to get better."
The Bruins were outshot 13-5 in the first period, but the Kings were only up 1-0, with Jeff Carter taking advantage of a turnover.
The Spoked-B needed to come out with fire in the second, and that didn't happen. LA made use of a power-play opportunity, just 44 seconds in. A minute later, a Kings' faceoff win led to a quick-fire goal for the 3-0 lead.
"I'm always okay with it. I couldn't help the team enough and we also didn't play our best, so it was the combination of the two things and you know, you've got to do something to shake things up," said Rask. "And I think it worked again."
In the second, the Bruins starting playing with more fervor. They started playing mad.
"When we're playing our best, guys have that intensity," said Johnson, who stopped 17 of 18 shots to finish out the game.
"I think it just comes to the intensity and that passion to want to win games and it's just consistently lacking right now."
Matt Fraser gave the Bruins life heading to the third, bringing them within two, one-timing a feed from Carl Soderberg home with purpose. But the Kings pulled away to a 4-1 lead midway through the third, off a two-on-one chance, another result of puck mismanagement.
Justin Florek's first NHL goal off a screen in front made it a 4-2 game late in the third, but this one didn't have any late-game heroics.
"We know we can be better. That's maybe one of those things, it's frustrating - that we know we can play much better than we are right now," said Captain Zdeno Chara.
"So now we need to get our game back, and it's not going to happen overnight, and it's not going to happen trying to make high-risk plays, or taking risks. We've just got to stay patient and slowly gain our game back."
Rask never leaves anything to the imagination. He'll tell you like it is, whether the team wins, or loses, or whether it's a game when he makes 40 saves for a shutout, or gets pulled to help give the team a spark, down 3-0.
"Well, it's got to be mental. Just major mistakes and it ends up costing us. Sometimes they don't and sometimes they do, and now the last few games they have," said the netminder.
Rask has allowed an uncharacteristic eight goals within the past two games, but the help in front hasn't been its usual self, either.
"We definitely could use more [emotion] from our team," said Julien. "From the goaltender on out, we need big saves,our guys have to manage the puck better, and those kinds of mistakes that we're making are very costly so everyone's got to be better here."
"We didn't get much from our top two lines and you need that if you're going to win some hockey games. They were pretty quiet and it was one of those situations where you had to battle back from 3-0 against a team that's pretty stingy to start with."
The mistakes the past two games have been classified as "major breakdowns" by Julien, whether they've come five-on-five or on the penalty kill, which has allowed four goals in those games.
"You know, we can't feel sorry for ourselves, we just have to be more focused and clean that stuff up, and it will be good," said Rask. "We were on our heels there, and after letting in those two goals [in the second period], we pushed to them and got the puck in the offensive zone and had some chances, so that's just how we've got play, we've got to keep pushing and forechecking hard."
"It's pretty simple right now at this time of the year, you know everybody's going to compete really hard, and teams are fighting for better positions in the standings," said Chara.
The Bruins are still atop the Atlantic Division with 58 points, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are right behind them with 56. They're going to need to push to get past this recent stretch.
"We've got to be a better hockey club, it's as simple as that, and it's got to come from inside the dressing room & guys have to be committed to winning the next game," said Julien.
The Bruins' swing through California caps off on Saturday night in San Jose.
"Guys don't want to go home 0-3 on this road trip, and we're going to need a lot of everything, from big saves, to timely scoring, to minimizing mistakes and being better prepared to play from start to finish."
"It's obviously a big push before the Olympic break so now we've just got to grind it out," said Chara. "And we need to earn our game back."
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