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Bruins Pay for Poor Execution in 3-2 Loss to Rangers

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

NEW YORK - Heading into Wednesday night's matchup with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had a simple answer for what he wanted to see from his team.

They had just won two straight games, including a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

"Same thing. We need to be a solid team all-around, played a solid 60 minutes in the last game, and we're going to need more of that," said the bench boss. "We need consistency in our play and good trust and we need those 20 skaters coming in and doing their job."

"It's demanding a lot of your team, but it's what we're going to need here to progress along the way."

Julien didn't get the same thing from his squad, as they fell 3-2 to the Rangers.

"I don't think we competed hard enough to get to the net and get pucks to the net, so we gave them an easy night, as far as that was concerned," he said. "They played well. We didn't play well enough."

The Bruins didn't face Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, with the Rangers' starter sidelined by an upper-body injury. That didn't matter. Goalie Cam Talbot needed to make 18 of 20 saves for the win.

Boston didn't register its first shot on goal until 7:45 into the first period, when Adam McQuaid fired a drive that Talbot turned aside with his pad.

By then, New York had already raced out to a 1-0 lead, with Rick Nash gaining a step on the Bruins' defense and tucking a backhander past Tuukka Rask for his league-leading 32nd goal. s

Despite being outshot 12-6 in the opening 20 minutes, the Bruins went to the second period with a 2-1 lead, thanks to goals 1:52 apart from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron.

"I think that tonight's loss was because of our effort and our discipline in our game and our commitment in our game," said Lucic, who joined the team in New York at around one o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, after staying back in Boston to get over the flu.

"And those are things that you've got to find within, and [we] had it against LA, you saw how good we can play, but tonight for some reason we wanted an easy game, and we end up with the result that we get."

Lucic tied the game at 1-1 with 6:23 left in the first period, when he picked the top corner on Talbot and drove in his 11th of the season from the slot. It came on a rare sustained shift for the Bruins, after a strong entry into the zone by David Krejci. Reilly Smith did the work down low.

Just 1:52 later, Bergeron deflected in his 13th of the season. Loui Eriksson provided the perfect saucer pass over Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi's stick from the left wing off the rush.

The Bruins had two goals on their first five shots.

Though it wasn't the first period they had wanted, there was consolation in still taking a 2-1 lead to the second.

"I didn't think we got the start that we wanted, but then we got back in the game, we got the lead and seemed like we got the momentum back and we just had to keep that going," said Bergeron. "And it is [disappointing] - we're expecting a tough game and a good team, and that's what we got in front of us."

"We weren't executing the way that we know we can, and we paid for it."

All the Rangers needed was a two-goal second period to solidify their 3-2 lead entering the third period for the eventual win.

Derick Brassard tied it up 2-2 with 13:19 left in the second period, finding himself all alone in the slot to put home a centering feed from Chris Kreider.

The Bruins only had eight shots on goal at the midpoint of the second period, with the Rangers owning a 15-8 edge. They were able to get more pressure on Talbot during a power play, spending the first 1:21 of the man advantage in the Rangers zone, but they couldn't carry that momentum.

Derek Stepan put New York on top 3-2 with 3:04 left in the middle frame. Nash slipped a quick pass in behind Dougie Hamilton to Stepan, who got it past Rask's glove hand.

"My glove just kind of went funny there, I thought I made the save there and looked at my glove there and it was kind of opened in a way that it shouldn't be," said Rask, who stopped 22 of 25 shots in the loss. "And just one of those things that bad kind of luck I guess but then again, mistakes happen and I would like to have that."

The Rangers took it to the Bruins, but it wasn't so much the Rangers' speed that was causing issues, as it was the Bruins' lack of execution, especially in the neutral zone.

"Well, we weren't executing well enough to deny that speed, and we let them - [we saw] that wide-side pass all game, so, it's kind of obvious," said Bergeron.

"We couldn't eliminate those as much as we wanted, but then again, they're a good rush team as we know, and we should be more ready for that, but we weren't," said Rask.

Boston didn't manage the puck as well as they would have liked, and didn't provide enough of a sustained attack to wear down the Rangers.

"I think it's about really the little things, and really executing, and making the plays," said Bergeron. "I think when we're stingy and we play well - especially in the neutral zone tonight, if you play well there, you take away a lot of their plays that they want to do and when you're able to play in their own zone and sustain some pressure there, they're wasting energy and that's how you're creating chances."

The Bruins didn't push the pace. In the third period, they outshot the Rangers 7-4 and started to create more opportunities. Julien switched the right wingers back around, trying to spark something. Smith went back with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson were reunited. David Pastrnak went up with Lucic and Krejci.

"It's just - it's one of those nights where, even in the third period, we came back and got some shots on net, but I don't know how many real good scoring chances we had in the third," said Julien. "And that's, just for us, to create those things, we've got to get guys in front of the net, and we didn't do a good enough job of that."

Lucic's play was a bright spot for the Bruins, given the fact that prior to warmups, he hadn't been on the ice since Monday's practice.

"I thought he did well. He's been sick the last day or so, and he didn't skate this morning or practice [Tuesday], and he played OK," said Julien. "We just didn't have enough guys competing hard enough for our team to have a chance to win, and Looch was certainly one of those guys [competing] - he had some good chances and with his strength and that, he's able to win some battles there."

"But we need a little bit more of that from a lot more players on our team."

"Rough day yesterday," said Lucic. "Just one of those 24-hour flu bug things and just stayed away from the team and had a 10 o'clock flight that was delayed until 11, so I didn't get here to the hotel until about 1 o'clock, but for how I felt yesterday, felt pretty good on the ice today."

"So I've got two days here to feel 100 percent before we've got a big back-to-back coming up."

The entire team needs to be back at 100 percent, if they want to come out on top against the Islanders on Saturday night at TD Garden, before the B's host the Habs on Sunday night.

Sitting in a Wild Card spot for a playoff position, winning eight of their past 11 games hasn't done much to make a dent in the standings. The "must-win"approach has to continue.

"I think that's probably the most disappointing thing after this game," said Lucic. "Opportunity to move up and get closer as far as the divisional standings go and we let it get away from us by our poor play."

"So, good thing is we get right back at it with two games on the weekend and hopefully we don't lack the effort like we did tonight."

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