BostonBruins.com - The Bruins looked far more like themselves on Wednesday afternoon, but it still wasn't enough. After overcoming a two-goal deficit and appearing to regain some of the swagger that made them the Presidents' Trophy winners, Boston surrendered the winning goal to Tyler Johnson with 1:27 remaining in regulation and fell to the Lightning, 3-2, on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto.
"It's always the way we defend and the way we take care of the puck in our own zone," Patrice Bergeron said when asked what needs to improve after a winless start to round-robin play. "When we start doing that better we seem to get out clean and spend less time and less energy in your zone and you're back out on the offense.
"I think too many times we're not managing the puck like we usually do, and we spend the rest of that shift in our zone. We need to rectify that and simplify that game and those plays. Same goes in the offensive zone. When we do that in the offensive zone, we're forcing some results because we're putting the puck on net and getting second and third chances."
The Black & Gold, who entered the NHL's re-start as the league's top seed after a 100-point regular season, are now 0-2 in round-robin play and can finish no higher than third in the Eastern Conference. Boston closes out the round-robin on Sunday against Washington.
"Well that part sucks, I'm not going to lie to you," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "But, that's the situation this year with the stoppage of play. We knew the rules going into it, that we would lose a bit of the advantage we'd gained. We are where we are now. We're just trying to win a hockey game right now, get our game together for 60 minutes so that we can be at our best…this is one year I do believe the seeding is less relevant than others.
"Would I have rather been number one seed? Absolutely, keep it. That's not going to happen…we'll get ready for Washington and play the best game we can and prepare for the postseason. That's our ultimate goal, we have to win 16 games. We knew that going in. That will still be our goal."
Video: Lightning, 3 - Bruins, 2
More notes and observations from the Bruins' loss to the Lightning:
Finding Their Game
Boston fell behind, 2-0, on first-period tallies from Brayden Point and Alex Killorn, both of which deflected past Rask, who made 32 saves on 35 shots in his return to the net. But the Black & Gold surged back, showing off their patented resiliency to pull within a goal on Charlie McAvoy's one-timer off a Torey Krug feed from the point with 3:17 to go in the second.
"[Offensive] zone draws we've talked about it to [assistant coach] Kevin [Dean] that Krug will get some extra shifts in those situations with McAvoy, or might be [Matt Grzelcyk] and McAvoy, some combination of that," said Cassidy. "Those are just situational plays where Kevin made a good call on the back end where we've discussed a number of times that we can get that one-timer from Charlie or Krug, one or the other, that we're going to try to take advantage.
"Especially with Bergy in the circle on his strong side, you've got a pretty good chance of you're going to start with the puck so let's see if we can make something happen. It happened to work out that time."
The Bruins tied the game just 1:47 into the third when Chris Wagner tapped home a Zdeno Chara rebound for his second goal in as many games.
"We wanted to show more passion, more competitiveness than we did against the Flyers," said Cassidy. "I certainly thought we did that. Some of that is Tampa has become a natural rival. They're finding ways to win games at the end against us. We're going to have to obviously correct that. I did like that our competitive spirit came out.
"We got behind, we didn't get away from our game. We didn't lose our composure, either, or discipline. I thought we kept playing, tried to ramp up the physicality, win a few more pucks, create energy in that fashion."
Video: TBL@BOS, RR: McAvoy hammers one-timer from point
Turning It Up A Notch
Much of the Bruins' momentum could be traced to an uptick in intensity, particularly among the defense corps, which began when Krug dropped the gloves with Blake Coleman late in the first period after a heavy hit on Brandon Carlo.
"That was great for us. That was great to create that energy for us on the bench. Torey is a guy who takes on a leadership role without having a letter. We know that he's someone who always comes and competes," said McAvoy.
"At that point in the game being down two goals, for him to step up there - it was a hit he didn't appreciate, and to step up there and fight and really bring passion and emotion into the game, that was awesome for us to see, especially in a setting here where you need to create your own energy.
"I think he saw that as an opportunity and that was awesome out of him and something that got our bench going and we always appreciate when we stand up for each other."
Just over a minute later, McAvoy tussled with Point, drawing a penalty, and early in the third period, Grzelcyk got into it with Barclay Goodrow after Goodrow delivered a high hit to the head of Anders Bjork.
"I think every time we play them it's a physical game," added McAvoy. "I don't want to look back at prior games, but tonight was physical and that's something that our group doesn't shy away from. I think we take that head on and stand up for each other like Torey did there."
Video: Bergeron and McAvoy talk to media after loss to TBL
After missing the round-robin opener with a cough that forced him to quarantine for two days, Rask appeared sharp in his return to the crease. The 33-year-old made a number of point-blank stops in the third and kept the Bruins afloat as they looked to complete the comeback.
"I felt good, a lot of action there. Early on, tough couple bounces but just try to make some saves and get that rhythm back in the game. I felt pretty good," said Rask. "I felt normal out there. I got to improve my hip flexors out there, they were cramping up at the start of the second period, so I guess that's probably what it is.
"I was seeing the puck well, I was moving well, I had legs, I was tracking the puck, so I've got to be happy with that. That was my first real game in a couple months so I'm pretty happy how I felt."
Nick Ritchie also played his first game since the restart and landed two hits in 17:01 of ice time.
Video: TBL@BOS, RR: Rask uses pad to deny Point in front