"We know that we have to play our best against this team," Captain Zdeno Chara said a couple of hours prior to puck drop. "And we know that they play a certain way and if we don't play our way and stick with our game plan, then usually it's not going to be good results for us."
After a night of the Canadiens dictating the play with their game, Boston wound up with their not so desired result, falling 3-1.
It marked the fourth straight loss to their division rival and concluded the season series.
"We had some good looks but for the most of the night, we were losing races and battles for those pucks, so it was not the effort we were expecting," Chara said postgame.
Following a scoreless 20 minutes, Montreal struck first just 38 seconds into the second period. Dale Weise tapped in a Max Pacioretty drive from the left wing boards that was heading wide of Rask to make it 1-0. Weise started the play by finding his way around Chara and trying to hit David Desharnais with a feed in front, before the puck went all the way across to Pacioretty.
The Habs took advantage of the first minute of the third period, too, going up 2-0 just 56 seconds in.
A rare miscommunication in the Habs' zone saw Chara and Dougie Hamilton collide in the high slot, with David Krejci stickhandling near the goal mouth and sending a pass to that area. Weise got to the loose puck after the collision and sprung Pacioretty through center ice on a breakaway, where he beat Rask five-hole.
Pacioretty and Weise combined for four points on the night.
"They were getting to those loose pucks quicker and making quick plays, automatic plays, and we were not reacting fast enough," said Chara.
Rask made his 11th straight start. Both he and Carey Price started back-to-back games for their respective teams on Saturday and Sunday. Rask finished the night with 31 saves on 33 shots.
"You know, I thought he played well," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "The winning goal is a terrible goal to give up. Two defensemen colliding in the O-zone, and like I said, we have a tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot, for whatever reason, against them and the kind of goals we give them are certainly not the kind of goals you see from our team most of the time."
"That's my bad," Chara was quick to take the blame on Montreal's game-winner. "You know, I saw David [Krejci] going around the net and I moved in, and that's something - usually you have the cross-seam defenseman moving in and I misread it and it end up costing us, so I'll take the blame for that, because that's something that I should be more patient and obviously take a look.
"Dougie [Hamilton] was in the right spot, David made the right play, and I don't know, I just thought that I would have a chance to move in. That's not the way we play."
"I just saw some space in the slot, I thought Krech was going to pass to me and me and Zee saw the same thing, so I didn't really see him until the last second," Hamilton said of how he saw the play develop. "Just miscommunication, misread it, and unfortunate bounce."
Despite the result, Rask continued his sharp play.
"Tuukks was great again," said Torey Krug. "He's been playing very well, and he's been seeing the puck very well. You know, it's just a couple mental breakdowns and the puck ends up in the back of our net, and you can't have it, especially if you want to be a playoff-caliber in the team that can, in the playoffs, cause some damage, so we've got to be better than that."
Rask's career record now is 3-13-3 against Montreal.
"Well it's not Tuukka's record, it's our record," stated Krug. "We win and lose together as a team and he holds his end of the bargain, and we let him down sometimes. And he bails us out so much, so it's unfortunate that people always have to talk about his record, when he's bailing us out all the time."
The Bruins finally broke their shutout streak against Montreal and Price that had dated back to Nov. 13 at 159:25 when David Pastrnak got them on the board late in the third period.
Montreal sealed the game with an empty-netter for the 3-1 win.
Throughout the full 60 minutes, the Bruins didn't generate enough second or third opportunities with traffic in front and couldn't find the rebounds. What Prices sees, he stops.
With less than a minute to go in the second, the Bruins almost caught a break when Price came out to play the puck and Loui Eriksson quickly sent a drive towards the net. Price recovered, and calmly gloved the puck. But the Bruins ending up spending too much time in their own end, and weren't able to get past the Canadiens netminder.
"Traffic. It's pretty obvious," said Chara, of the lack of scoring. "I don't think there's any goalie in the League that likes to have traffic in front of him, so we didn't do that consistently for the whole night."
The Bruins killed two penalties in the first period, including a delay of game penalty on Adam McQuaid less than four minutes into the game. They followed that up in the third, killing a Milan Lucic cross-checking penalty.
Despite entering the game with the 29th ranked power play on the road, Montreal had gone 3-for-3 in a 6-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
Boston's penalty kill has now killed off 32 of its last 34 shorthanded situations. The Bruins did not get a power play chance all night.
"That’s all we can talk about right is our PK, not our PP? They did a good job. Our PK did a good job," said Julien.
The Bruins will have the day off on Monday after their back-to-back, and with the impending snow storm hitting Boston, but will look to rebound Tuesday when they host the Dallas Stars before heading out on a week and a half road trip.
"It’s not complicated. I’m telling you right now it’s disappointing to see your team lose battles," said Julien. "It’s disappointing to see them lose races to the puck."
"I mean, everybody's obviously upset that we lost and we don't like losing games, and we don't like losing games to them," said Krug. "But you've got to move past it. Now there's a bunch of points that have to be won in order for us to maintain our position and we're not thinking about it, but we'll let it sit tonight, let it sting, and move on."