ANAHEIM, Calif. - The largest frustration for the Bruins on Wednesday night came from one single notion: they could have won.
The game was never out of reach. In fact, they felt in control. They just couldn't find a way by the Ducks to even pick up a point in Anaheim.
After a 5-3 loss, they'll quickly regroup before facing the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday night to complete the back-to-back, and mark game No. 3 on their four-game road trip out West.
"There's nothing worse than going out of a game thinking you had no chance - we definitely had our chance," Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. "We had a chance in the second period to extend the lead, we didn't finish, he made saves, we hit pipes, whatever you want to call it, so it was a lot of positive."
"It's just - you hate to come back and get scored on late in the game like that, and we've had a bit of that issue throughout the year, some late goals, so clearly we've got to clean that up."
Cassidy was referencing the Bruins bouncing back in the third period, when Frank Vatrano knotted the game at 3-3 with 8:25 to go. Kevan Miller and David Krejci combined on a heads-up play to spring him on a breakaway.
Video: BOS@ANA: Krejci feeds Vatrano for dazzling goal
The Bruins looked poised to at least earn the point, and then continue on to overtime. They dominated much of the possession in the third period.
But with 2:34 to go, Rickard Rakell tapped in the go-ahead to make it 4-3 Ducks after back-and-forth passing down low.
With Boston's net empty, Andrew Cogliano got hooked as he sent the puck towards the open goal, which made it an automatic empty-netter and gave the Ducks a 5-3 lead.
Multiple time throughout the game, the Bruins had lengthy zone time, but couldn't find a way by Ducks netminder Jonathan Bernier.
Even though Vatrano scored, he felt the effects of that - he had a blast late in the second period that broke through Bernier, but the puck sat in the blue paint a touch above the goal line before the Ducks safely cleared it away.
Krejci hit a couple of posts and missed a few others by a hair that added up to five missed shots on the night.
Patrice Bergeron sent seven shots on goal and was robbed by Bernier. Torey Krug had his five attempts blocked.
"I think it's pretty frustrating," said Vatrano. "There are four or five chances that could have could go our way, and Krech hits a couple posts, Bernier made some nice saves on Bergy, mines stops on the goal line, and there's a couple of other plays we could have capitalized on."
"But that's the way it goes sometimes, pucks don't bounce your way and they got a couple of bounces that went their way, so that's just the way the puck falls some nights, and now we've got a big game [on Thursday] so we've got to come back."
The biggest break for the Ducks came on the goal that gave them a 3-2 lead in the second period.
Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson poked in a rebound after a wraparound attempt by Nick Ritchie. The Ducks had clearly been offside prior to the goal, but Boston had already used its Coach's Challenge.
Video: Condensed Game: Bruins @ Ducks
Earlier, in the second period, at 5:38 into the frame, David Pastrnak fired a one-timer by Bernier on the power play that would have put Boston up 2-1. The goal was immediately called back because of goalie interference, as Brad Marchand was in Bernier's quarters atop the crease.
Boston tried its Coach's Challenge to reverse the goal, but the call stood.
Not long after, Zdeno Chara put in a blast through traffic from the left point at 6:55 into the second period right after the power play.
Video: BOS@ANA: Chara hammers in slap shot through traffic
Just 47 seconds later, Anaheim tied it up 2-2, when Rakell got some puck luck and the puck squeezed through Tuukka Rask and crossed the line.
"I squeezed it as hard as I could and felt it kind of leak through, and as I started turning I obviously kicked it in, so tough bounce there," said Rask, who was solid throughout the night and made game-saving stops, including a sequence of saves on Ryan Kesler shorthanded. "I squeezed my blocker as hard as I could with the pants, and it still went through, so it's frustrating."
The Ducks' offside goal that made it 3-2 came about six minutes later, but Boston couldn't challenge.
"It was at least a foot offside, so me challenging earlier clearly back to haunt us later," said Cassidy. "When you make those challenges, it's quick, you consult, and I felt that March was out of the way of the goaltender when the puck went in the net, he was outside the blue paint, but they didn't feel the same way, so I lost the opportunity for later on, and clearly I could have used it."
The Bruins did get the tying goal, and had the chance to earn the win, but some breakdowns and missed chances prevented that from happening.
"Usually goals happen because of breakdowns - obviously there's good plays from both teams, but we had our share [of breakdowns]," said Cassidy. "We need to be better in front of our net, and specifically late in the game."
"We had to do a better job returning into our own end, which we had numbers coming back. We had a look off the rush there, we could have managed the puck better and then coming back into our zone, we seemed to be fine and then all of a sudden, we got puck watching and we paid the price."
Brandon Carlo started the Bruins on the right foot in the first period with a bullet of a shot that David Backes teed up right after a Bergeron faceoff win.
Video: BOS@ANA: Carlo hammers opening goal past Bernier
After Carlo's tally, the Bruins only allowed one more Anaheim shot on goal the rest of the first period.
"I definitely feel like we could have won that game, if we put the pucks in the back of the net like we needed to," said Carlo. "But it doesn't happen every night for us and it depends on bounces at the same time, but overall I felt like our compete level was up, and the team was pretty much going."
The second period was a slightly different story for Boston, featuring an up-and-down 20 minutes that saw those posts, unlucky bounces and a 3-2 lead for Anaheim. Vatrano would tie it, but another breakdown cost the Bruins.
"I wouldn't say it's a setback," said Vatrano. "Obviously, it's a little frustrating for the guys in the room. I think we've played a solid game and obviously there were a couple of breakdowns, a couple of bounces that didn't go our way, so we've just got to flip the page."
"We've got a big game [on Thursday] in LA and we've got to keep this road trip going and we've got to get two points."