OTTAWA - Despite a fresh start with the opening of a four-game road trip, the Bruins were unable to shake the bad habits that have plagued them in recent days, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
"We're going through a tough stretch in terms of getting our energy level where it needs to be, having no passengers," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team has lost three in a row and two straight in regulation for just the second time this season.
"If you're not competing hard on the puck, around the puck, you're not going to beat anybody. Ottawa was just better than us - they won more races, they were more competitive early on.
"We eventually got to our game, but again, it's too late. We knew this would catch up to us, so another learning experience for us in that regard. Keep plugging away at it."
Here are some other notes and observations from the Bruins' loss to Ottawa:
Playing Catch Up
Boston once again found itself playing catch up, falling into a 2-0 deficit in the first period, before Patrice Bergeron - returning from a seven-game absence - pulled the Bruins within a goal late in the opening frame. Ottawa regained a two-goal advantage just 1:21 into the second when Tuukka Rask mishandled a puck behind the net, leading to a freebee for the Senators from the doorstep.
"It's been happening for a while that we've been falling behind in games," said Rask, who made 23 saves on 26 shots. "We want to correct that. A lot of it is on me. When I play, I want to give us a chance to get the lead and not fall behind one or two goals in the first period especially. That never helps.
"But then again, we've battled back and we kind of found our game later in the game, but sometimes you play with fire there when you fall behind a few goals and try to catch up."
The Senators added two empty-netters (at 17:02 and 19:59 of the third), sandwiched around a power-play tally from Jake DeBrusk with 2:15 remaining in the third. The first of Ottawa's empty-netters came shorthanded, as Cassidy pulled Rask for an extra-attacker after Colin White went off for tripping with 4:14 to play.
"It's one of those things where a season is filled with ups and downs," said Bergeron. "We're facing every challenge, good or bad, as a team together. That's what we are as a team. That's what we're gonna do…just another challenge and bump in the road and I think it's just good for our team."
Video: BOS Recap: Bergeron, DeBrusk score in 5-2 loss
Hitting a Lull
Following their extended spring and shortened summer, the Bruins knew there would be difficult stretches throughout the regular season. Boston went through an 0-2-2 rut early last month and is battling through another dip as they've dropped three consecutive games, the last two in regulation.
"Teams are obviously playing really well against us," said Zdeno Chara. "Ottawa is a great example - they play very tight hockey, very stingy hockey, and I think that we have to realize that we've got to get into those areas that are kind of not always pretty and grind it out and work hard and win the battles and races. Sometimes it's better to simplify the game than try something that's not working today that was working before."
Power Outage Continues
DeBrusk's power-play tally in the final minutes of the third period helped Boston break a dry spell on the man advantage. The Bruins had been 0 for their last 14 before the marker and remain just 2 for 20 over the last seven games.
"We've turned it into not trusting each other to make the right play," said Torey Krug. "We're holding onto pucks for a little bit too long instead of realizing that we have the man advantage. Just zip the puck around and when you get the open shot, we'll collect the rebounds. That's what we do well. All of a sudden, those nice plays open up. We've just got to move the puck around a little quicker and be more decisive."
Boston finished the night 1 for 5 (10 shots) against the Senators, but remains third in the NHL with a 28% success rate.
"Earlier in the year, our power play carried us," said Cassidy. "A night like tonight we probably get two on it and it ends up being the difference in the game. And a timely save mixed in there. You put those two things not going our way and all of a sudden we're in the loss column.
"Some of that is what happened at the start of the year, how we overcome some of our sluggish games. Some of it is just cyclical, it's how it goes. There's good teams in this league and they're gonna kill penalties."
Video: BOS@OTT: DeBrusk stuffs home puck for PPG
Bergeron wasted no time in making his impact felt as he returned from a two-week absence with a lower-body injury. The B's No. 1 center took a David Pastrnak feed drilled a one-timer into an open net to finish off a 2-on-1 and pull the Bruins within a goal with 2:12 to go in the first period.
It was Bergeron's ninth goal of the season and gave him 25 points in 22 games. He finished the night with a team-high six shots on goal, while winning 16 of 25 faceoffs, in 21:43 of ice time.
"Felt good," said Bergeron. "Was trying to keep things simple early on and once I got going, I felt better and got the legs underneath me and felt pretty good."
Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, both held off the scoresheet for two consecutive games, had a pair of assists apiece.
Video: BOS@OTT: Bergeron places one-timer into open net