Four games had gone by without them striking first. Brad Marchand cleared that up, with David Pastrnak getting his first NHL point on the assist on the goal that gave the Black and Gold a 1-0 lead over the host Ducks.
Three unanswered goals by Anaheim left the Bruins in a hole that they reduced when Simon Gagne netted his 600th career point, but could never climb out of, falling 3-2 at the Honda Center on Monday night.
"I'm certainly not going to criticize the effort," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters postgame outside the visiting team locker room. "I thought we played hard and I really feel like we should have won that game."
"If you take the whole 60 minutes, I felt we were the better team, so that was my assessment of the game - and we did a lot of good things, and it took them a while to climb up there in shots."
"You know, the effort's there, and somewhere along the way, you've got to find ways to get rewarded with those."
The Bruins have been grinding out games. They had hoped they could find more offense, and while the chances were there, it was the Ducks who capitalized on opportunities.
Just 57 seconds after Marchand put Boston on top, the Bruins allowed Sami Vatanen to speed through the neutral zone, set up a quick give-and-go and pick up a rebound off Tuukka Rask's pad in tight for the equalizer at 11:17 into the second.
Then, with just 22 seconds left in the second, Devante Smith-Pelly tipped in a drive from defenseman Cam Fowler after the Bruins couldn't clear their zone and turned the puck over multiple times. Smith-Pelly won a battle with Matt Bartkowski in front.
"We've got to be smarter in situations like what you saw at the end of the second period," said Julien. "That puck should have been out many times."
The two goals showcased areas that Bruins had been focused on heading into the matchup.
"Boxing out and taking away their speed, and really minimizing turnovers, because they're a team that really goes on the attack quickly," said Julien. "And those two things ended up costing us at the end."
The Bruins had their chances to take a 2-1 lead earlier in the second.
Joe Morrow nearly put a breakaway chance home with his backhand after streaking out of the penalty box with about four minutes left in the period, but Frederik Andersen made the save. He followed that up with a save a minute later on Reilly Smith. Andersen was strong between the pipes for the Ducks, stopping 32 of the Bruins' 34 shots.
Smith-Pelly's tip gave Anaheim a jolt heading into the third period.
"It really knocks the air of out of your tires," said Rask, who was equally as strong in net, but let in three goals on 28 shots.
"At the start of the third, they came out with the momentum and it took us a while to find ours again. A couple of turnovers there that you wish you could have back," said Julien. "And the rest of the game -- lots to like about [Monday night]. Just disappointing that a few of those turnovers ended up in the back of our net."
On the Ducks' goal late in the second, Matt Bartkowski had his stick held by Smith-Pelly in front. Though the penalty call wasn't made (and Bartkowski was clearly frustrated on the ice), the defenseman held himself accountable postgame.
"I've still got to find a way to get him out of there. He's a big body and I should have just moved him in the first place," said Bartkowski, though the puck could have been cleared out of the zone many times before that lost battle in front of the net.
The Ducks went up 3-1 at 4:43 into the third period after carrying over momentum from the late goal. A clean faceoff win by Ryan Getzlaf against Carl Soderberg popped the puck right back to Matt Beleskey atop the left circle. He quickly fired it over the glove of Rask, who picked it up late. Soderberg stayed on a knee on the faceoff dot in frustration.
"It was a good shot, I heard. As a goalie you always think if you could have done something differently, and I don't think so," said Rask.
While the Ducks came out flying to start the third (after the Bruins outshot them 28-18 through the first 40 minutes), Boston pulled within one when Gagne scored his second of the season at 9:40 left. Daniel Paille wrapped around the net and centered the puck with Gregory Campbell atop the crease and Gagne driving the net and tipping it home.
The line has felt their game coming along lately.
"They played solid. I had them against Getzlaf at times, too, and there was no issues there, they held their own," Julien said of Campbell's line. "And at the same time, they're starting to find each other really well on the ice and they're becoming an offensive threat as well. That was probably one of our top two lines [in Anaheim]."
Paille had a chance earlier in the game before Marchand's goal, but the bid hit the post, hit Andersen's back and stayed out. He also generated a sequence of chances shorthanded, an area where the Bruins went three-for-three on the night.
Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser (who slotted into the lineup with Seth Griffith a healthy scratch) had their own chances, too. But it wasn't until Pastrnak's pass atop the crease to Lucic was blocked away and ended up on the stick of Marchand in front as a Bruins' power play was coming to an end that they found the back of the net.
"I'm sure I'm going to remember this forever, but it would be a much better feeling if we had won, and in the end, we lose and the point doesn't mean anything right now," said Pastrnak.
Lucic nearly put home the game tying goal late in the third, after a spirited push by the Bruins, but Andersen robbed him.
"We have to bear down," said Julien. "I use that term a lot, bear down. You got to find ways to score goals here and it was nice for a change to get that first goal, but it didn't pay off at the end."
The Bruins bused to Los Angeles following the game in advance of Tuesday night's matchup with the Kings that caps off back-to-back games.
"I think we had good start to the game and we had a lot of chances and we could have scored more goals, you know, but we didn't," said Pastrnak. "And I don't know the game is done now and we have to think we have three more games on the road, so we have to keep going and go win three."