PITTSBURGH - The Bruins appeared poised to make some noise Sunday afternoon. Despite falling behind by two goals midway through the second period, Boston responded with a fierce push toward the end of the frame.
David Krejci's blazing slap shot from the right circle cut the Bruins' deficit in half late in the second, and only moments later David Backes came inches away from tying the score with a backhander on a breakaway.
Boston felt it had made it a game entering the third period. But just 1:40 into the final stanza, Pittsburgh delivered what proved to be a dagger when Patric Hornqvist scored from the doorstep.
The Penguins added another goal just 1:19 later, and another just 1:38 after that, en route to a 5-1 victory over the Bruins at PPG Paints Arena.
"You're down 2-1, we go out there and we're going out there to win this hockey game, then a quick third goal and all of a sudden you fall apart and give them two more goals," said Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Video: BOS Recap: Krejci nets lone goal in 5-1 loss to Pens
The Bruins have now lost four straight games. During such difficult stretches, when everyone can be pressing to turn things around, mistakes can compound, as they did during that three-minute stretch against the Penguins.
"It happens and all of a sudden you're in a deep hole making plays or making reads that you shouldn't have trying to compensate," said John-Michael Liles.
"Tonight they came out hard. It's a good team, a really good team. They played well and we were able to battle back….it snowballed there at the beginning of the third."
Bryan Rust opened the scoring just 18 seconds into the second period, before Conor Sheary made it 2-0 at 9:06. Krejci responded just over four minutes after that with his 11th goal of the season. The pivot streaked into the offensive end, took a nifty feed from David Pastrnak and ripped a slapshot far side on Penguins goalie Matt Murray.
Video: BOS@PIT: Krejci rips a slap shot past Murray
The jolt the Bruins received from the goal, however, was short-lived, as Pittsburgh responded with three straight goals.
"I look at some of the mistakes we made, it's a team that just got unraveled there in the third period," said Julien. "This is a team that I think needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don't have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game.
"It's important for our guys to understand that and it's important that we have guys that want to go."
Boston has now fallen three points behind Ottawa in the Atlantic Division standings and sits just one point ahead of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the division. With two home games remaining before the All-Star break, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, the Bruins know the importance of banking some points before the weekend.
"You need that one to get you back on track and it needs to be the next one," said Patrice Bergeron. "You can't just be trying to say the right things after games every time and not do anything about it. It's about doing more than saying."
Video: Bruins speak to reporters after loss at Pittsburgh
Rask Leaves Early
Tuukka Rask (20 saves) came down with a migraine midway through the second period and later had to leave the game after he struggled with his vision. The netminder skated over to the bench to alert trainer Don DelNegro that he was not feeling well, before exiting at the next TV timeout.
Backup goalie Zane McIntyre took over between the pipes for the remainder of the game.
"I started seeing lights a little bit, just got bad really quickly," said Rask, who played 29 minutes, 48 seconds. "After a half an hour, got my vision back when a couple minutes were played in the third period but it was 3-1, 4-1 quickly."
Video: BOS@PIT: Rask denies Kessel, gets help to clear puck
McIntyre, as he always is as the backup, was ready to enter the game when called upon.
"Tried to be prepared," said McIntyre. "Just went back in the tunnel, tried to get a little warmup in and do my thing and get ready to get out here and stop the puck."
The Bruins, once again, landed plenty of shots on goal. Boston peppered Murray with 45 shots, compared to Pittsburgh's 36.
Bergeron and Brad Marchand each had a game-high seven shots, while David Backes fired six on Murray.
"Again, the opportunities that we had we don't capitalize," said Julien. "You always give the goaltender on the other side some credit because he was good tonight.
"But at the same time, if you're going to win hockey games you've got to find ways to get through. It's frustrating, there's a lot of guys right now that aren't giving us enough."
With 6:26 remaining in the first period, play was stopped to repair a problem with the ice along the boards near the Pittsburgh bench. After several minutes of trying to fix the issue, the teams were sent to the dressing rooms for an early intermission.
When the teams returned, the final six-plus minutes of the first period were finished, before immediately switching ends to begin the second.
"I didn't know what was going on there at first," said Rask. "I saw them fixing the ice, but it was worse than I thought. It's happened before, just go get some rest and get back out there. We finished that first period well, we started the second and got scored on right away in the first minute."