BOSTON — The Bruins four game win streak was snapped on Tuesday night with a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars at TD Garden.
Their home record fell to 1-4-1. They next head back out on the road, where they remain unbeaten at 5-0-0, with stops against the Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders.
They didn’t make the road ahead any easier.
“There was a lot of problems [Tuesday night],” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “First period I didn’t mind, and second period and third period, I don’t know where our team went.”
“We just kind of lost our focus and we weren’t the same team again. Instead of trying to dig it in, I think the way they were playing us our guys were getting more and more frustrated and the more we got frustrated, the more we got away from our game.”
“It’s a lesson learned for our guys and with a tough road trip coming up, we just made it even harder.”
The Bruins had a 2-1 lead after the first period thanks to Colin Miller’s first NHL goal and a power-play goal from Loui Eriksson, but they wound up allowing the next four goals. Three of the four goals came on the power play. Two of them came from Tyler Seguin, capping off a three-goal night for the Star. He also scored the game’s first goal.
“Probably we got a little frustrated, but I think the truth is that I have to make more saves,” said Tuukka Rask, who stopped 14 of the 19 shots he faced. “[Then] it’s a different game; it’s that simple.”
“I wasn’t seeing the puck at all today and couldn’t really make one big save, so that’s a tough hill to climb after that, and that’s just how it went today.”
Though the Bruins began the game outshooting the Stars 6-0, Seguin struck at 5:46 into the first period on Dallas’ first shot of the night. Zdeno Chara stepped up on Jamie Benn and got tangled with him at the red line, while Seguin sped down the left wing and fires a shot top corner on Rask through Kevan Miller’s legs. Brad Marchand was covering as the other defender, with Chara tied up.
Less than two minutes later, Colin Miller blasted in his first NHL goal to tie the game 1-1 at the 7:14 mark. Ryan Spooner won the faceoff cleanly and Jimmy Hayes quickly sent a touch pass to Torey Krug, who teed up Miller for the tally in his 10th NHL game.
The Bruins went on the power play in the final minute of the first period, when Alex Khokhlachev — recalled from Providence on Tuesday to fill in for the injured David Pastrnak (foot contusion) — drew a holding penalty after a strong shift alongside Eriksson and David Krejci.
Eriksson potted his third goal of the season (and third on the power play) about 15 seconds into the man advantage to give Boston the 2-1 lead.
But the Stars would score the next four goals before Eriksson could reduce the deficit to 5-3 with 2:15 to go in regulation.
Seguin made it 2-2 when he fired in his second through traffic from the left circle, just six seconds into a Dallas power play. Jyrki Jokipakka made it 3-2 Stars with a drive from the left point at 2:42 to go in the second that marked his first NHL goal.
Trailing by only one entering the third, the Bruins allowed two more power play tallies from Seguin and Alex Goligoski.
“It’s pretty obvious — it’s way too porous and too many holes,” Patrice Bergeron said of the penalty kill. “We know as a team [like Dallas] that likes to go through seams and make those one-time plays, obviously it’s going to be really hard for Tuukks to stop those kind of shots. We’ve definitely got to be a lot better.”
The Bruins had actually been on a trend of improving their penalty kill. Tuesday night’s results certainly didn’t help — and neither did the loss of Chris Kelly just 1:40 into the game, when his left leg gave out under him and he suffered a left femur fracture that will cause him to miss six to eight months after surgery.
“It’s tough,” Marchand said of losing his teammates to injury. “I think that’s an area where he’s really going to be missed. He’s such a good penalty killer and he’s got one of the best sticks in the league and you know when you lose a guy like that on the PK, it’s tough to fill that void and it just puts more pressure on the rest of us.”
“It’ll be tough losing him.”
Kelly’s impact will be felt far beyond just the penalty kill. The Bruins will have to collectively compensate for his loss.
They’ll also have to bounce back from this loss, and get their play back on track — especially at they head on the road, where it won’t be easy to continue their dominance in opponents’ buildings.
“It’s disappointing — we didn’t play the way we have in the last number of games and it showed that we can’t get comfortable,” said Marchand. “We have to play the system every night. And when get away from it then we’re going to lose a game and, you know, it’s exactly why we lost.”
On the road so far, the Bruins have kept it simple, and proved resilient.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough road trip coming up for us,” said Eriksson. “Would have been nice to get the win here [at home] and keep building on the confidence we have, but we took a step back — now we just have to keep going forward and get better as a team.”
“We’ve been good on the road so far this season, so hopefully we can be good on the road again.”