BOSTON - The Bruins fired 22 shots towards Carey Price during the first period of Saturday night's tilt with Montreal. But the problem was the Canadiens' netminder only had to get in front of six of them.
Eight of the attempts were blocked and another eight missed the net.
The lack of finish left the Black & Gold searching for answers as they entered the second period, during which they were outplayed and surrendered two goals en route to a 4-2 loss to the Canadiens at TD Garden.
The Bruins (3-2-0) have now allowed the first goal in all five games they've played this season. And while Boston has fought hard to overcome those deficits, including cutting the hole to one goal twice against the Habs, the Bruins know they must quickly improve their starts.
"I hope it's not a habit," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team landed just 21 shots on goal. "It's certainly not what we're looking for. But there's no doubt, I think it's pretty obvious that with the amount of games we've played, five games, we haven't scored first.
"We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn't happened yet."
Bruins blue liner Torey Krug said capitalizing on their opportunities early in games will go a long way in turning around their tough beginnings.
"It's kind of been the story with how things have gone so far," said Krug, who himself landed just one shot on goal on seven attempts. "We've got to find a way to start playing with a lead. You don't capitalize on your chances and see what happens, they come out in the second period and we have another poor second period.
"We've got to make sure we put a hand on that and not let it become a thing for this team. You see when you don't capitalize on chances early what is going to happen."
Video: Julien speaks after loss to Montreal
Montreal got on the board with two goals in a six-minute span of the second period. Brendan Gallagher launched a one-timer past Anton Khudobin before Phillip Danault gave the Habs a 2-0 lead on a 2-on-1 late in the period.
"Changes were ugly. We're not putting the puck in deep, guys are getting stuck on long shifts and then when you get tired, your mind shuts off and all of a sudden they're skating around and making plays with the puck," said Krug.
"It's just about making sure we're bearing down and playing well inside our blue line and making clears. It's just sloppy plays like that and it ends up in the back of our net."
Julien was not happy with the amount of time the Bruins spent in their own end during the middle frame.
"Terrible, and that's where it really hurt us," said Julien. "I thought the first period…I thought we played well. The second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn't make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end.
"Because of that, it gave them some momentum, and by the end of it we cheated ourselves a little bit and pucks ended up in the back of our net."
Dominic Moore cut the deficit in half at 5:34 of the third, before Paul Byron made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal just under two minutes later. The Bruins responded 37 seconds later on Ryan Spooner's power-play tally, but that would be the closest they would get.
Torrey Mitchell ended the B's chances with an unassisted tally at 12:47.
"We fought hard and had a couple chances there at the end," said Krug. "It's tough but we expect bigger things out of ourselves. We've got to make sure we learn from this and move on."
Fourth Line Continues to Impress
The trio of Tim Schaller, Dominic Moore, and Noel Acciari had another strong performance. They provided a shot of energy each time they hit the ice and created momentum with their physicality and dependability.
They even cashed in offensively on the Bruins first goal.
After Acciari chipped the puck to Moore in the defensive zone, Moore took off through the middle of the ice. Moore played a bit of give-and-go with Schaller, before rifling one over the blocker of Price to get the Bruins to within 2-1 at 5:34 of the second.
Video: MTL@BOS: Moore beats Price to cut the deficit
It was Moore's second goal of the season. It was the second assist each for Acciari and Schaller.
"We knew their D were going to pinch and just knew if we could get it past the pinching D we'd have good chances," said Acciari, who delivered two hits in 9:41 of ice time.
Spooner Scores in Return to Lineup
After sitting out as a healthy scratch during the Bruins home opener Thursday night, Spooner was back in the lineup against Montreal. The 24-year-old landed a team-high four shots on goal, including the power-play goal that made it 3-2 halfway through the third.
David Backes sent a saucer pass across the crease that Spooner one-timed past Price.
Video: MTL@BOS: Spooner scores PPG off Backes' sweet feed
"I had maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on, just have to bear down on those," said Spooner, who played 14 minutes, 10 seconds. "It's good that I'm getting those looks, but I have to score on them.
"I'm just going out there and trying to play. Can't really think about it, just have to go out there and try to play the game that I can and use the speed that I have."
Khudobin Stands Tall
Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was immense in the first period when the Canadiens peppered him with 13 shots. The veteran was subbing in for Tuukka Rask, who missed the game with an undisclosed ailment.
Video: MTL@BOS: Khudobin's terrific kick save on Petry
Khudobin played well throughout and made 25 saves.
"Anton [Khudobin] gave us a chance to win for the longest of time," said Julien. "I don't think we helped him at the other end of it, but he made the saves that he had to make. Some of the mistakes, breakaways and that kind of stuff, we know better than to give those."