BOSTON - It had been nearly 30 years since the Bruins blew a lead as large as the one they held on Tuesday night and lost the game.
But that streak ended, as Boston faltered in the third period, allowing four unanswered goals en route to a 5-4 shootout loss at TD Garden. The last time the Bruins blew a lead of four-plus goals and lost a regular-season contest was Dec. 30, 1989, when they surrendered a five-goal advantage in a 7-6 loss to Toronto.
"It's a strength of our team to close out games," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "We had a [4-0] lead going into the third period. It's a trademark of this team. Yeah, it is a concern."
"We obviously realize that that was not our 60-minute game," added Zdeno Chara. "I think that we know that we lost a point…it's on us."
Video: Bruins Talk Following 5-4 SO Loss to FLA
Boston (11-3-4) has now dropped four consecutive games - the last two via shootout - and fell to 0-4 (0-1 in overtime and 0-3 in the shootout) in extra time this season.
"I think that we have to realize that teams are ready to play us," said Chara, who scored Boston's fourth goal with 29 seconds to play in the second. "We have to elevate our game. I think that a few games before [tonight] we were a little bit late with the start of the game and I thought that we did a much better job tonight with our start.
"But again, our finish was not there. We are looking to complete three periods of hockey and play strong for the full time of the game."
The Bruins appeared to be breaking from their November doldrums in the second period when they surged to a 4-0 advantage behind goals from David Pastrnak, Joakim Nordstrom, Anders Bjork, and Chara, chasing Panthers starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky from the net.
But Florida - with Sam Montembeault taking over between the pipes - responded with a four-goal period of their own in the third - three within the first 10 minutes of the final frame - capped by the tying tally from Keith Yandle with 1:39 remaining.
"There's so many good players and good teams, especially these days, no lead is safe," said Tuukka Rask. "You have to be on your toes at all times and kind of build that into your game throughout the season. I guess you've got to just take the positives and learn from these kind of mistakes and hope that they never happen again."
Video: BOS Recap: Bruins lose 4-0 lead, fall in shootout
Vincent Trocheck and Charlie Coyle - Boston's first shootout tally this season - traded goals in the shootout, pushing things to a fourth round during which Mike Hoffman potted one for the eventual winner and Charlie McAvoy was stopped by Montembeault to end it.
"[Goalie coach] Bob [Essensa] has information on that. One thing Bob suggested - we were going to use [Chris] Wagner. There was maybe more shooters than dekers against this goalie coming in, but Charlie [Coyle] scored in the shootout shooting," said Cassidy.
"We put Coyle in and recommended shooting. Pasta tends to like to deke, so that's why we went away from him. He's been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish. Charlie McAvoy definitely has but it didn't happen."
Senyshyn Leaves Early
Zach Senyshyn left the game early in the second period and did not return because of a what was termed as a lower-body injury by the Bruins. The rookie winger, who played just 4:46, may have injured his knee, according to Cassidy.
"Unfortunately, he's trying to get a foothold on a job here while guys are injured and he's been doing a good job for us," Cassidy said of the 22-year-old, who has two assists in four games since being called up from Providence. "It seems like we're losing forwards this year. Last year it was defensemen and now we'll have to rely on someone else to come in the lineup and do the job.
"He's played well for us, played hard, so you want him to stay healthy and put his best foot forward and get every opportunity. But that's hockey sometimes and hopefully he's not doing too poorly or too badly and he'll get back in there when he's healthy."
Video: Cassidy Speaks Following Shootout Loss to FLA