By the end of the Bruins' matchup in Vancouver on Friday night, they had gifted four goals. The Canucks gifted themselves the final tally with an empty-netter to seal their 5-2 win.
"Just keep battling hard and be mentally sharp," Tuukka Rask offered as a remedy for the Bruins get back on track, as they continue a five-game road trip with two more Canadian stops in Calgary and Edmonton. "Those mistakes we did in our own zone, can't do that in Peewee hockey, that's going to cost you, let alone in the NHL."
"So if we keep doing those mistakes, nothing good's going to happen."
"Well yeah, those gifts that you give are pretty costly lately," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame from Rogers Arena, before the team flew to Calgary. "You like teams to earn their goals, and it's not to discredit Vancouver, they took advantage of what we gave them so the credit goes to them, but how easy we made it, with those kind of gifts, was mind-boggling."
"Some of those decisions that you make it basically your responsibility and you kind of wonder where some of those decisions - what's behind the thought?"
The Bruins found themselves down 2-0 within the first 5:03 of the game, with the Canucks scoring two goals on their first three shots.
Just 1:41 in, Shawn Matthias potted his first of three on the night for Vancouver. He put in the easy tap-in from atop the crease after a centering feed from the boards by Zack Kassian. Torey Krug and Loui Eriksson lost a battle for the puck in the neutral zone, and then were caught flat-footed, as Kassian moved in with Matthias two-on-one, and just Adam McQuaid and Rask remaining as the last lines of defense.
At the 5:03 mark, Matthias score his second when he easily intercepted a Dougie Hamilton cross-ice breakout pass through the middle of the ice in front of Rask. Julien utilized his timeout after the early 2-0 deficit.
"I think especially with all the preparation we've done and the expectations we had for ourselves, what we were going to bring and everything, and then we don't do it, that's been kind of the theme," said Hamilton, after his team lost its second consecutive game giving up five goals.
"[The coaches] keep telling us things and we have a game plan, and we just don't execute it, so it's frustrating when, as a team, we can't do that."
Boston has now allowed the first goal in five straight game and eight of their last 10.
"Definitely our start was disappointing. I thought in the first anyways, when we got the goal we started going, but you know, we're doing too much of that right now and we give teams time to establish their confidence in their game," said Patrice Bergeron. "We're always playing catch-up hockey and it's tough to do."
Bergeron made it a one-goal game at 9:38 into the first with his team-leading 16th goal of the season. He came out of the penalty box and sped into the defensive zone, then made a play up ice, muscling into the zone and throwing a shot on net that ricocheted and went in behind Ryan Miller.
The Black and Gold had shown some spurts in the opening frame, outshooting Vancouver 10-7, but the second period trended in a different direction.
Just over a minute in, Rask left his net and skated to the left circle to try and pokecheck the puck away from Jannik Hansen, who was in a race with Krug. Hansen got to the puck first, and fed a pass to Bo Horvat in the slot. Hamilton and David Krejci clouded the front of the net to play goalie.
The Bruins escaped that situation, but then let Radim Vrbata move in atop the crease to make it 3-1 at 9:26 into the second.
After McQuaid blew a tire behind Rask, Vrbata was set up with a slick behind-the-goal pass, got the Bruins' netminder to bite and then sent a backhander past him. The goal came on the Canucks' 11th shot of the period, giving them an 11-2 advantage at the time.
"You know, we didn't get the start, then kind of had glimpses of good hockey, but then just mistakes and our defensive zone play was just - it was awful," said Rask. "But you know, it's hockey, that's how it goes sometimes - we just have to fix those things."
The Bruins had started the period being outshot 10-0.
"It's about executing, really," said Bergeron. "Going back to January, we weren't complicating things and we were keeping it simple and taking what was there."
"Right now, we're forcing plays, especially in our zone, we're forcing played and that's when we get in trouble and we get back on our heels, so it's about going back to executing and having a way better pace to our game."
Like in the first period, Boston again made it a one-goal game at 5:41 into the third period when Kelly netted his seventh of the season, peeling off the wall after a strong forecheck by David Pastrnak. Julien had shortened his bench in the third period, putting Pastrnak with Kelly and Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and Loui Eriksson with Brad Marchand and Bergeron.
But Vancouver killed that momentum just 24 seconds later, when Matthias sent the hats raining down at Rogers Arena with his third goal of the night.
"That's not the way we want to play hockey obviously," said Kelly. "We're trying to battle back all night long. It's just - it's a tough way to play the game."
"Being on the same page, playing the system - I think it boils down to, we're getting outworked. It's costing us hockey games. That used to be a strength of our hockey team, that we would win those one-on-one battles. These last two games, three games, it hasn't been the case."
Once again, another gift from the Bruins halted any comeback. Dennis Seidenberg tried to send a breakout pass through the middle of the ice, but the puck was picked off. Rask made the first stop on Matthias, but the second chance pinballed and went in.
"When things go south, they go south - deep," said Rask.
The Canucks made it 5-2 off an empty-netter with exactly 2:00 on the clock in the third.
Now having lost three straight and four of their past five, the Bruins find themselves in a similar situation that they were in before their strong month of January.
"I mean, the mistakes and the way that we're playing, yeah, it is [the same]," said Bergeron. "And we've got to turn this quickly."
Boston lucked out with the Florida Panthers dropping back-to-back games and pulling even in games played. The Bruins sit four points above them in the standings for the final playoff spot.
But if they want to solidify their position, they need to rise to the challenge on this road trip, with four games still remaining. The next matchup comes Monday night in Calgary.
"It's obviously frustrating," said Kelly. "But at the end of the day, we're the only ones that can correct it and we need to in order to have any chance at the postseason."