TAMPA - On so many occasions over the past two seasons, it has been the Bruins' power play that has delivered at the most opportune times, providing the perfect boost exactly when they need it. In recent games, however, Boston's man advantage has struggled mightily, connecting for just two goals in its last 27 opportunities.
And on Thursday night, while the Bruins went 0 for 2, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning that used the power play to carry them to victory. The Bolts struck for two man-up goals - in three opportunities - to overcome an early deficit and ultimately handed the Bruins a 3-2 defeat at Amalie Arena.
"The penalty kill just didn't have an answer tonight," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team has dropped five straight games, the last four in regulation. "They scored twice and probably should have scored on the other one."
Tampa notched its first power-play marker at 12:35 of the second, when Steven Stamkos - who was all alone in the slot after a faceoff - scored to tie the game at 1 just six seconds into the advantage.
"I take responsibility," said John Moore, who was in the box for a trip on Alex Killorn, his second such penalty of the night. "I'm trying to go stick on puck there and I make a bad turnover in the second. I'm better than that. I pride myself on being a good PKer and when I'm in the box that's not gonna help the team. I've got to be better."
Tampa Bay went on to grab a 2-1 lead at 4:07 of the third on Brayden Point's power-play marker, putting the Lightning up for good. Stamkos added his second of the night - an even-strength tally - to give Tampa some insurance with 4:47 to go.
The Lightning needed it as Moore responded with his first goal of the season with 3:15 remaining, when he punched one home a feed from Anders Bjork through a scrum on the doorstep.
"I knew Anders was gonna put it on net," said Moore. "We were kind of pressing there and I was just gonna go in there and kind of do a fly by and see what I saw. Lucky enough our D collided there and the puck was lying there, just tried to put something up high and it ended up going in. Happy to give the guys a chance there to get back in the game, give us a look again."
Video: BOS Recap: Bergeron, Bjork score in 3-2 defeat
Put It In Perspective
The Bruins are certainly not pleased with how the last five games have transpired. It is the team's longest losing streak since 2016, making it the longest skid since Cassidy took over in February 2017. But despite their recent struggles, the Bruins are taking a wider view, choosing to put things in perspective given where they are in their 82-game schedule.
"You've got to take positives from every game," said Charlie McAvoy. "Even when you're winning, you can't sit there and start to become complacent or have this false belief that maybe you're better than you are. I think we know the kind of team we are in here, we know we're a special group. These things happen.
"We're kind of going through it right now and trying to find a recipe to get back in the win column. As frustrating as it is, it's just a handful of games in December. A little bit of perspective goes a long way. At the same time, we want to win. We're competitors and no one is really happy in here. That being said, perspective."
Still with a sizable lead in the Atlantic Division - though it has dwindled from 15 to 9 on this road trip - Boston is trying to limit its frustration.
"We have a lot of experience. We've been through a lot," said Tuukka Rask. "We recognize when we suck and when we don't. I don't think we've sucked. It's just a matter of getting a couple of bounces and getting the lead and playing with it. For the most part, we've been playing the right way and then you lose these tight games.
"You don't want to let it snowball. If you start getting down on yourself and doubt yourself, you're gonna lose more games in a row. I don't think we feel sorry for ourselves. We're gonna go out the next game and keep battling and it's gonna turnaround."
Video: Cassidy, B's players react to 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay
Patrice Bergeron scored the game's opening goal, jamming home his 10th goal of the season just 4:26 into the game off feed from Brad Marchand, who rounded the net and found Bergeron at the top of the crease. While Boston's top line delivered once again, Cassidy admitted the team needs more offense out of its middle six.
"Five-on-five play, defending against two real good teams the last two nights, I thought we were tight, not loose, not allowing easy chances," said Cassidy. "Top line again was creating, we're just not getting anything from the middle of the lineup in terms of offense. You need four lines to produce for you in this league on a regular basis.
"Might not be tonight, might be Saturday, but at some point we have to balance that out and get going here a little bit, at least find their opportunities and they'll go in. But I'm not sure they're even finding their opportunities yet."
Video: BOS@TBL: Bergeron buries opening goal at the doorstep