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Loose Defensive Effort Cancels Out Scoring Burst in San Jose

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

SAN JOSE - Scoring goals was at the top of the Bruins' list heading into Thursday night.

Letting in seven goals at the other end was not.

With a 7-4 loss to the Sharks at the SAP Center, Boston fell to 0-3 on its road trip out West, with just one game remaining against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

"We scored some goals, but the rest of our game wasn't very good," Head Coach Claude Julien said of his team that allowed a season-high seven goals.

The last time the Bruins let in seven goals came back on January 31, 2013 in Buffalo. They had let in six on two occasions this season.

Boston had a promising start in San Jose, after stringing together solid efforts in Anaheim and Los Angeles without getting rewarded.

They were making sharp, clean breakouts. Reilly Smith scored 29 seconds in, easily converting a backdoor feed from a falling Patrice Bergeron after a quick rush up ice.

Just 1:06 later, Gregory Campbell fired his third of the season past Antti Niemi after a slick setup by Daniel Paille, who easily spun around Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Quickly up 2-0 off their first two shots of the game, the Bruins made their scoring woes look they were finally taking a turn for the better. By sticking to their solid defensive game, this could finally be the game to put them in the right direction.

"After we took that 2-0 lead, we kind of got loose and sloppy and gave them a chance to get back into the game, so once they got back into it, they didn't really allow us a chance to even come back," said Julien. "And even if we tied the game there, we were just hangin' on. Had a lot of poor, poor performances from a lot of people, so you can't win hockey games that way."

The Bruins killed a penalty late in the first period, but San Jose came out with a spark in the second. Tommy Wingels sent a tip through Tuukka Rask's five-hole just 27 seconds into the period.

Boston had to go back on the penalty kill just 13 seconds after San Jose's tally. Right after a strong kill, a shot ramped up off Tyler Kennedy's skate and over Rask for the 2-2 tie.

A third unanswered goal by the Sharks on the power play at 7:30 into the second shocked the Bruins when Wingels notched his second of the night off another tip.

It was a tough start to the period for a group that felt they were on the right track despite the late period penalty kill.

"I thought that we seemed ready to start again, and we were fortunate that we got some good breaks and got some nice goals and instead of really building on that and making sure we're playing a tight hockey game like we're capable of, we got loose, we got sloppy," said Julien.

The Bruins allowed a season-high 44 shots on goal, including several Grade-A scoring opportunities that Rask had to turn aside. San Jose had 88 shot attempts (with 18 blocked and 19 missing the mark).

The second period was the worst, with a 24-7 shots advantage for San Jose.

Still, the Bruins managed to enter the third with the game tied at 4-4. Reilly Smith picked up his second of the night to make it 3-3, before Torey Krug and Joe Pavelski traded goals about two minutes apart, with Pavelski's coming on the power play.

"We just never really regrouped and at the start of the second, awful start there, and still managed to come out of it with the tie," said Rask. "And then you know, tough break there in the third, go down one goal and then we could never really find that extra gear to battle back. And the rest is what it is."

Kennedy scored off a deflection at 3:02 into the third period, and then amidst 4-on-4 hockey, Pavelski beat Dougie Hamilton and banked the puck off Milan Lucic and in for the 6-4 lead.

Tomas Hertl wrapped around the net and roofed a follow-up chance over Rask to make it 7-4 with 4:16 left in the third.

"Honestly, you just try to forget about [the game]," said Smith, who broke a 10-game scoring drought. "We thought there were going to be a lot of positives coming out of tonight with the start that we had, but when it snowballs like that and you're not playing defensive hockey like you need to, there's not many positives you can take out of it."

"Too many people that had tough nights, and you can't win with that many people not playing well," said Julien. "So, from first guy to last guy, there's not too many of them that you could say you were pleased with their game."

The score could have been much worse. Rask made several key stops throughout the night, but the last line of defense can only do so much.

"They were pretty perfect deflections too - you're kind of there but it's top shelf, five-hole, caught you moving and stuff like that, off a skate, off our skate. It's just one of those night it's not going your way," said Rask.

"That means that we had some guys back, but if you're not checking like you're supposed to check, if you're not boxing out, if you're not doing those kind of things, it's not good enough," said Julien. "So they didn't get lucky goals, they earned their goals and we just were really, really poor defensively, and poor in a lot of areas, so it was a tough night, a bad night for our hockey club."

The Bruins scored four goals for the first time since November 10 against New Jersey. But there was no consolation to take from the loss.

"You know, we've talked about keeping that defensive game going, but just finding ways to score more goals and we did that for half the first period, and then we got away from it, especially in the second and the third," said Bergeron.

"It's one thing to generate offense and find ways to score goals but you can't let away your whole team defense, and too many times we've let guys in the slot or what not, and they're too good of a hockey club to let that slip by."

Second periods haven't been a strong suit for the Bruins this season. They've given up 30 goals in the middle frame.

"Lose 7-4 - I mean, you want to take the positive, you score four goals, our start was good, you take the lead and play really good hockey we know we can play," said Rask. "We talk[ed] about in the intermission we want to get out there and play like it's a tight game and then we get outshot 24-7 - so that says a lot of things."

"It seemed halfway through that first period, everything went in a negative way and it just kind of snowballed from there and we didn't help Tuukks out very much," said Smith. "So it's just a poor effort except for the first 10 minutes."

The Bruins felt lucky to somehow still be in the game, despite the lax defensive effort. They know that type of play is not even close to what's expected out of this group.

"Well, we wanted to come out with at least a .500 record [on this road trip] and now it's not happening," said Rask. "So, try to gain some confidence back and get the win in Arizona and go back home and start rebuilding.

"But seven goals - obviously not going to win a lot of games with that."

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