MONTREAL -- These were not the Boston Bruins who won 12 games in a row and earned a point in the standings in 16 straight games during a historic March.
Well, the personnel was the same, the uniforms were the same, but the Bruins who are down 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens are playing a completely different type of hockey.
The Bruins are playing mistake-riddled hockey.
After losing 4-2 in Game 3 on Tuesday at Bell Centre, the Bruins will try to right themselves in Game 4 on Thursday in the same rink (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
They'll try to snap a streak of three straight games during which they have fallen behind by at least two goals. They were able to force double overtime before losing Game 1 then won Game 2 with a four-goal third period.
On enemy ice, however, the Bruins couldn't climb their way out of a 3-0 hole.
"It felt like we were ready before the game," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who is usually a reliable barometer for how his team will fare. "I thought our energy was there. I think they obviously came out flying, which they always do here. And maybe if [we had] a couple less breakdowns, we might've been a little bit better off."
The breakdowns started early and came often. The Canadiens scored the first goal when Boston forward Jarome Iginla failed to cover Tomas Plekanec going to the net. Plekanec scored off a slap pass by Thomas Vanek at 10:57. The sequence started when Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Kevan Miller failed to connect on a handoff because Miller thought Rask was going to reverse the puck.
The next two Canadiens goals were layups, which you rarely see scored against the Bruins, who were the second-best defensive team in the NHL during the regular season. First, Rask failed to bang his stick to alert his teammates that Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was about to leave the penalty box. Subban scored on a breakaway at 14:44 of the first period.
"That's part of my job too," Rask said. "I have to let them know. But I kind of looked at it and I thought we had everything under control and stuff like that, so I decided not to, and it ends up in our net."
Canadiens forward Dale Weise scored on a breakaway at 13:52 of the second period. Neither Boston defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who had his shot blocked, or partner Johnny Boychuk accounted for Weise, who blew the zone before Daniel Briere hit him with a pass.
"Yeah, they were stretching us out, but I don't think that's something we didn't expect," Meszaros said. "Obviously we're watching videos and so we know what to expect from them. We just need to execute better and obviously they were blocking a lot of shots. So we need to do a better job of getting it through and go to the net."
Miller said, "I think a couple times when we were shooting up from the point, they had one guy taking off and we didn't account for that guy right away. We just need to do a better job of not letting guys get behind us."
Obviously exhausted from trying to climb back into the game, the Bruins' comeback fell short after they trimmed the lead to 3-2 on goals by Iginla and forward Patrice Bergeron on tips in front of Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
There are only so many late-game miracles a team can pull off, even if the Bruins led the League in winning percentage when trailing entering the third period in the regular season.
"It's the way our team plays, we play until the end," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "If we start relying on how we play in the third period, we'll be making a big mistake."
That would be a mistake they'd have to add to the laundry list compiled in Game 3, and during the first two games. The Bruins don't like to look into the past, but there are definitely lessons they can take as they try to extend this series.
Two months ago, they looked like an unbeatable team for the better part of four weeks. They disposed of the Detroit Red Wings in the first round in five games. They know how high the bar is set for their performance and now they want to strive for it.
"We believe that if we do get behind, we can come back," Iginla said. "Nobody's relaxing, it's just unfortunately in the first period we had an off period and it cost us a lot and we had to come back again. We can be better. And it's something now, this game is behind us, we'll go over it [Wednesday]. And as the second and third [periods] went along we started building our game again and we're going to need that."