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Hoping to Provide Spark, Subban Tough on Himself After Bruins' 5-1 Loss to Blues

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

ST. LOUIS - When Malcolm Subban dreamed about his NHL debut, Friday night wasn't exactly how he envisioned it to be.

After facing only three shots through the first 20 minutes, with his first save coming at 12:14 into the game, Subban saw three go past his glove just over five minutes into the second period.

The Bruins eventually dropped a 5-1 loss to the Blues in St. Louis.

"It's not the way you want to debut, obviously," a soft-spoken Subban said postgame, clearly disappointed in himself. "You know, your team's in a tough spot right now, you try to give your team a chance to win, maybe spark the team a bit, but you don't want to do the opposite. I feel like that's what I did today."

"So it's tough for the guys, and I couldn't come through and give them a good performance."

The 21-year-old netminder was keeping the night in perspective, though. This is the goaltender, in his second year pro, whose first NHL preseason action at TD Garden in 2013 resulted in an 8-2 loss to Detroit and him running the arena stairs afterwards to work it off and clear his mind.

"I've just got to recap and look at the stuff I did wrong and learn from it. Being a young guy, you can't let it rattle you too much," said Subban. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so I'm going to take that approach to tomorrow and the day after."

Tuukka Rask went between the pipes in relief of Subban after the Blues took a 3-1 lead early in the second.

The Bruins had taken control in the first period, outshooting the Blues 8-3, with Brad Marchand putting them up 1-0, when his wrister broke off of St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen's glove.

But a quick start to the second for the Blues saw them steal the momentum. Petteri Lindbohm scored his first NHL goal during four-on-four hockey just 48 seconds into the period, when his shot went off of Subban's glove, off his back and in.

Another four-on-four saw Alex Pietrangelo's shot ramp up off of Patrice Bergeron's stick and through a screen, fooling Subban.

T.J. Oshie then ripped one top shelf from the right circle that hit the crossbar and went in being Subban to give the Blues a 3-1 lead that came on just six shots and their three shots to start the second.

"It's tough, when you don't see a shot for any [amount of time]. I think it was like four shots halfway through the game, but like I said, your team's playing well in front of you, you've got to what you can do to stop the puck," said Subban. "Just like that, the momentum changes off a goal or two. The first goal, got to have that. So it's tough, you know, but you've just got to go back to the drawing board and try and forget about it as quick as possible."

"Just think about what I did wrong and obviously, like I said, should have been out more, that definitely would have helped me a bit, but tomorrow is a new day."

The three goals came within 3:21, with Rask coming in to help change momentum.

"You know, tough start for Malcolm there, didn't get any shots and then bang, bang, bang, that's it. Felt bad for him," Rask said postgame.

Subban skated off the ice, with a stick tap from Rask, and down the tunnel, before returning to assume his role as backup at the end of the bench.

"I just told him 'don't worry about it' when he was skating off. You know, that's not a good feeling when you skate off in front of 18,000 people and you feel like you failed your teammates," said Rask. "But he's a strong kid and he'll battle through it."

Subban was confident and ready. He had the backing from his teammates, his head coach, and most importantly, from himself. Circumstances didn't play out the way he or anyone could have imagined, and the loss will sting.

"I have to look at the game tonight and think about the stuff I did wrong - obviously, I was way too deep on all three goals, regardless of how they went in - tip, screen, knuckle puck, it doesn't matter - I've got to challenge more," said Subban. "I feel like, you know, if it was the AHL, I would have been out more, maybe those don't go in, you know what I mean? So whether it's nerves or whatever it is, just no excuses, you've got to stop the puck."

"Like I said, I was way too deep on all three goals. I didn't really give myself a chance to make the saves."

The young goaltender is usually aggressive in his play, to the point where he has to actively work to tone it back. He used to come way out of his paint, not leaving much room to recover. He made the adjustment in the AHL with Providence. It's been the area of his game he has worked on the most, as his lateral movement is second to none. He was poised and confident, and Friday night wasn't the way he wanted to introduce himself to the League.

"You feel for him and you really hate taking him out - I think that was a tough call, it was the call I had to make at the time," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "But certainly not the start you wanted him to have. And those first two goals, he has those 95 percent of the time, so those are unfortunate goals, and that last one [from Oshie] was a great shot, top shelf."

"So I had to make the change at that point, because I really felt we were playing well enough that we could have gotten ourselves back in the game, but that fourth goal - the power-play goal that they scored - really hurt us, and I was really disappointed that we ended up with the extra two and those things, they're going to happen once in a while, but you know, our guys I thought played hard right till the end."

The Blues made it 4-1 with 6:01 left in the second. Adam McQuaid had blocked consecutive shots on the penalty kill, but another shot block ricocheted right out to Vladimir Tarasenko in the right circle for the easy one-timer before Rask could react.

St. Louis' power play had come after Jordan Caron and Lindbohm had dropped the gloves. Caron had finished a hit on Oshie, sandwiching the forward between himself and Brian Ferlin. Lindbohm jumped in, and started the fight. Caron ended up with an extra two minutes for roughing, and the Blues ended up on the man advantage.

"You know, I don't know what happened that penalty, we fell short there, I don't know why," said Rask. "Then Quaider blocks two shots, then he blocks a third one and goes right to the guy and it's bang-bang, it's in."

Boston called a timeout, trailing 4-1, with the Blues scoring four goals on just 10 shots.

The Bruins continued to generate chances, especially from the defensemen getting shots through with deflections in front, but they couldn't get any pucks past Allen.

Tarasenko scored his second of the night off a one-timer following a two-on-one rush. It came off of a rare turnover by the Bruins in the game.

"Even the last goal, the guy whiffs on his shot. It's just tough bounces. But, it is what it is," said Rask.

The Bruins were given a 5-on-3 power play with 6:06 left in regulation. Julien opted to put Subban back between the pipes. It was more about getting his power play unit back to the bench before the two-man advantage ensued.

"You know, I talked to him after the second, I talked to him afterwards too. I put him back in, I wanted a little bit of a break there for our power play and buy a little bit of time," said Julien, of the decision. "Because with a 5-on-3, get a goal there, still get a power play, you get another goal, now it's a 5-3 game, get some momentum there."

"So I wanted to give ourselves a chance and at the same time, by having the power play, he wasn't going to get much action, but he's got an opportunity to finish the game he started and with the score where it was, I think he deserved that."

With about five minutes left, and the Bruins still on the power play, they nearly scored, but Blues defeneman Ian Cole swept the puck away from the goal line.

Rask has now appeared in 25 of the Bruins' last 26 games, and has made 16 straight appearances.

"I feel pretty good," said Rask. "Obviously when you face a lot of shots and a lot of scoring chances, it's physically challenging but I feel good and we're at the stage now where every point matters and you know, if I need to play every game, I'll play every game."

The Bruins aren't in an ideal position. At the end of Friday night, they still had just one point on the Florida Panthers for the second Wild Card spot in the East.

"We played a heck of a game today, I felt," said Rask, when asked about the team's performance. "Like, you know, we gave up 15 shots or whatever and got 30 on them or something and I don't even know how many scoring chances they got, probably two or so, so we feel like we played a good game."

"Obviously we're not going to accept losing, but the way we played, we feel comfortable that things are going to turn around."

Coming from the always blunt Rask, those words carry a lot of weight, whether the Boston faithful wants to take them to heart or not.

"It's hard to criticize your team when they keep the shot count down and I don't know how many scoring chances they had, but I thought we were moving the puck well, I thought we respected our game plan well and we had some opportunities and again, around the net, we just don't seem to be able to bury those," said Julien.

"We've got to keep working our way through this. I see encouraging signs. At the same time, I don't want to accept losing, but I think we're heading in the right direction here," he continued.

"But we're running out of time, and when I say running out of time, we've got to start winning soon here and our next challenge is Chicago and we've got to go there with the same intent of putting the same effort."

"But, hopefully get some pucks into the other net, and preventing some going into ours - that's the bottom-line."

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