BOSTON - David Backes does not believe it was happenstance.
The Bruins allowed three special teams goals to the New York Rangers Saturday night at TD Garden. And they proceeded to lose the game by the same number.
One of the goals in the 5-2 letdown came with the Bruins down a man late in the third period. The other two came on the power play - the Boston power play - as the Rangers' two middle goals were of the shorthanded variety.
Boston has now allowed three shorthanded goals this season, while having scored just three power-play tallies in 38 attempts.
"Our special teams was an Achilles heel tonight," said Backes, who played 4 minutes, 23 seconds of special teams time during his return to the lineup after missing five games following elbow surgery.
"You're minus three on special teams and you lose by three goals. I don't think that's much of a coincidence. Certainly don't want your specialty teams to be losing the game for you, especially on the power play, giving up shorties.
"It's a focus area that we need to be better in as a whole group. That needs to be something that strikes fear into our opponent…they need to be worried about taking penalties because our power play is a threat to them.
"Right now, I don't think that's the case and we've got to turn that tide and make it so."
Video: Backes returns from injury
Through 11 games, the Bruins' power play sits last in the league at just 7.9 percent. It is a sharp drop off from last season when the Black & Gold's man advantage was humming at 20.5 percent, the seventh-best mark in the NHL.
Brad Marchand, who played the second-most minutes on the power play Saturday night (3:36), believes that success is still in there somewhere.
"We know we have a great power play - we proved that last year - but it's got to click," said Marchand, who assisted on Patrice Bergeron's tally that gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead just 3:44 into the game.
"I thought the last couple games - tonight, even, early - they get a couple goals, we were moving around really well. We had a few good opportunities that we easily could have scored on. If we keep going like that then the pucks are going to go in the net."
Video: NYR@BOS: Bergeron scores off Marchand's great feed
The Rangers' first shorthanded goal resulted from a fluky bounce at 17:59 of the first. After Marchand's shot was deflected by Rangers forward Michael Grabner, the puck scooted up the boards.
The Bruins were caught deep, while Grabner broke for the loose puck and formed a two-on-one with Derek Stepan. Grabner floated a pass to Stepan who threw the puck toward Tuukka Rask (19 saves).
The Bruins netminder made the initial stop before the puck bounced off Stepan's skate and into the net to give New York a 2-1 lead.
The second shorty came off another unlikely bounce. Patrice Bergeron's shot ricocheted off the back glass and toward the slot, sending the Rangers on a three-on-one the other way.
Marc Staal found Kevin Hayes up the left side and Hayes fired one through Rask's five-hole for a 3-1 lead.
"I think they got a couple bounces," said Matt Beleskey. "They have a team that's pretty fast up front, and they know how to score shorthanded. They got the bounce and then three guys are taking off.
"I think the one we were in there for a minute and a half all over them and then they get a bounce and it's a three-on-one and they score.
"It's the way the game goes, but it unfortunately it wasn't our way tonight."
Bruins coach Claude Julien called the power play "sloppy" and was even more disappointed considering how well his team played five-on-five.
At even strength, the Bruins and Rangers each scored a pair of goals, while Boston allowed just 15 shots and landed 32.
"I thought five-on-five we played well, we played well enough to give ourselves a chance, but those special teams - overaggressive may be one term," said Julien, whose squad had won three in a row entering the game.
"Realizing that you still have to defend when you don't have the puck and we can't get lackadaisical. We did that tonight. I don't know if I want to call it sloppy, but certainly hurt our game tonight and our chances.
"That was, in my mind, was our biggest issue."
Video: Julien speaks with media after 5-2 loss to Rangers
Backes Returns to the Lineup
With the concern for any infection dissipated, Backes was back at it against the Rangers, returning to the lineup after missing five games following elbow surgery.
While the elbow is feeling good, he was not quite feeling back to top speed.
"I felt maybe a half-step slow, just the pace of the game, and being out of it and not being able to really move for seven or eight days, trying to knock a little of the dust or rust off," said Backes, who won all three faceoffs he took and delivered five hits.
"When I was in the battles, I felt good, I felt strong. I just need to get up to pace again."
Beleskey Back, Too
Beleskey was a healthy scratch for the Bruins' 4-3 win over Tampa Bay Thursday night. But he was back in the lineup Saturday, on the left wing beside Riley Nash and Austin Czarnik, who subbed in for Jimmy Hayes.
The winger played with pace and grit, delivering a game-high six hits, while also landing four shots on goal in 17 minutes, 56 seconds of ice time.
"Matty seemed to be a little bit more on top of his game, what we're used to seeing," said Julien. "That was encouraging for us."
Video: Beleskey gets back into Bruins' lineup
Home Woes Continue
The Bruins have now lost three of four games at TD Garden this season, after posting a disappointing 17-18-6 record at home last season. In four games on Causeway Street this season, the Bruins have been outscored, 15-6.
"We want to have a good home record and make this place a tough barn to come in and play at," said Marchand. "If we keep playing like we did tonight - a few errors, but if we clean that up and play the same game five-on-five we're going to be a good team here."
Pastrnak Gets Another; Nash Grabs a Point
David Pastrnak scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season at 14:46 of the third period to cut the deficit to 4-2. He has scored in three consecutive games and is now tied for the league lead in goals with Steven Stamkos, Artem Anisimov, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Laine, and Grabner….Riley Nash tallied his first point of the season with an assist on Pastrnak's goal…Brandon Carlo also assisted on the goal and has now grabbed a point - he scored against Tampa Bay - in two straight games.
Video: NYR@BOS: Pastrnak redirects Nash's shot into the net