OTTAWA - Despite a tumultuous first few minutes, the Bruins were still very much in a game with the Senators. Boston had seemed to right the ship as the first period progressed, and a goal by Patrice Bergeron late in the opening frame appeared to send a jolt of momentum the Bruins way.
But when the Black & Gold emerged for the second, the energy did not follow. Boston landed just five shots on goal during the middle period and was fortunate to escape it without surrendering a goal.
The Senators made sure to take advantage in the third with two goals, as the Bruins were unable to overcome the uneven play and forced to lament a 4-2 loss to the Senators Monday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Video: BOS Recap: Rally falls short in 4-2 loss to Sens
"They played their game better than we played ours, in a nutshell," said interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team has lost two of three. "It was a little disappointing at times that we were that stubborn…that was it to me. They played their game better than we wanted to execute our plan."
The result was even more disappointing, considering the significance of the game. Entering the night, Ottawa sat in second place in the Atlantic Division, just two points ahead of the third-place Bruins.
"I guess when you're down, 2-0, it tends to kind of put you down a little bit, but we battled back," said Tuukka Rask, who made 25 saves. "We got that big goal there, but in the second period you'd think we'd show a little more effort to make it a tie game. But I think they totally outplayed us in the second period. Overall, we just got outplayed."
Boston had particular trouble solving Ottawa through the neutral zone. The Senators thrive on clogging up the area between the blue lines and shutting down the opposing team's ability to create speed out of their own end - a calling card of Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher.
"It's tough to battle back when you play against a team that's back like that, they don't give up a lot of odd-man rushes or opportunities off the rush," said Brad Marchand. "We kind of played into their system there. We didn't get enough pucks in deep. That's the game you have to play against this team with the five guys in the neutral zone and really clog it up."
Video: Bruins react to 4-2 loss in Ottawa
Ottawa wasted little time opening the scoring. The Senators converted on their first shot of the evening, just 1:21 into the game, when Derick Brassard threw one on net from the top of the right circle that slipped through Rask.
Just 2:04 later, on their second shot of the contest, Ottawa struck again, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau deflected home a Dion Phaneuf point shot.
"I thought that they did a really good job of standing in front and creating the screens, that was one of the better teams I've faced in a long time," said Rask. "They've got big bodies moving around and finding open space. We didn't do a very good job defending."
Bergeron gave the Bruins some life with his 17th goal of the season with 1:33 remaining in the first. Torey Krug slid down the wall to keep the puck in and was able to deflect it across to Bergeron in the slot. Bergeron collected the puck, spun, and fired one past Craig Anderson to make it 2-1.
"I thought when we got it behind their D and got a good forecheck, we got plenty of looks," said Cassidy. "That's how we scored a goal, that's how we created some action around their net. You've got to buy into it. I thought we bought into at times, but not enough."
After a scoreless second, Ottawa regained a two-goal lead at 7:50 of the third period. With David Pastrnak in the box for a high-stick, Mike Hoffman ripped one past Rask from the point just 14 seconds into the man advantage.
Video: BOS@OTT: Bergeron spins, fires wrister past Anderson
Boston responded with a power-play marker of its own 1:14 later when Marchand potted a David Pastrnak rebound. But that was as close as the Bruins would get. Alex Burrows all but sealed things with an empty-netter with 50 seconds to go.
"We definitely didn't get the start we wanted," said Bergeron. "They got the speed that they want to have in the neutral zone, but also I thought our D-zone was poor and too many holes there. They took advantage of that.
"After [the first few minutes] we definitely tightened it up, it was better, we had more chances and what not. But when you put yourself down by two after less than 10 minutes it's hard to get back in the game."
News and Notes
- After receiving 25 stitches to sew up a cut on his neck, Adam McQuaid was in the lineup. He landed one shot on goal, delivered two hits, and blocked two shots in 17 minutes, 28 seconds.
- Marchand's tally was his 30th of the season, the second consecutive campaign in which he has reached that milestone. Last season, Marchand notched a career-high 37 goals.
- Torey Krug assisted on both Bruins goals, while playing a team-high 22 minutes, 47 seconds. The helpers were his 37th and 38th of the season.Video: BOS@OTT: Marchand kicks rebound to tape and nets PPG