BOSTON -- If the Boston Bruins think they played perfect hockey in building their 2-0 series lead against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they don't need to look back any farther than the second period of Game 2 to see how easily the series could be 1-1.
"You can always get better," Bruins center Chris Kelly said Monday after practice at TD Garden. "I think our consistency throughout the course of the game can be better. I think the second period, we were outplayed. Tuukka [Rask, goalie] made some huge saves for us to keep us in that game."
With Game 2 tied at 1 in the second period, the Bruins coughed up the puck at several inopportune times, forcing Rask to shut down some golden chances for New York. Even after Boston took a 2-1 lead, a giveaway led to Rick Nash's tying goal, which turned out to be the Rangers' last score in a 5-2 Bruins win.
"Oh, I think it was us. When you look at some of those turnovers, David Krejci, just inside the blue line, turns around and it's intercepted; you could see it coming from the bench," Bruins coach Claude Julien said about the giveaways. "You could see the passes from our end on their sticks. A lot of that stuff was of our own doing. I think we can be better in that area, although we played a pretty good game, I think most of those things came in the second period. We just have to be a little bit better. I thought our third period was much better in regards to puck management."
It's pretty obvious the coaching staff has stressed to the Bruins players that the correctable mistakes have to be banished from their game before Game 3 Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS). And it shouldn't be just the second period of Game 2 keeping the Bruins grounded.
They know all too well from recent history that bragging about past accomplishments rather than focusing on future improvements can make life difficult. The Bruins led 3-1 in their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and then turned in two subpar performances that allowed the Maple Leafs to force a Game 7. Even in that do-or-die game, the Bruins didn't find themselves until the third period.
The Rangers faced a 2-0 series deficit in the first round against the Washington Capitals, but rallied to win the series in seven games. So the Bruins know there won't be anyone rolling over.
"It's going to be in their building, so we're expecting them to come out with a lot of energy and feed off the crowd," center Patrice Bergeron said. "So we need to make sure we have a good start as well. I'm sure they're going to make also some adjustments in their game, and we will as well. So it's about just reading the play and making sure you're sharp on the ice."
Forward Rich Peverley said about home-ice advantage: "Maybe an extra confidence level for them. Maybe it'll be different. But we just need to be good, too. We need to be even better."
The Bruins can limit their giveaways. They can tighten their penalty kill, which has been perfect through two games but was tested severely in Game 2. Julien might have to integrate a defenseman or two returning from injury into the lineup. And there could be growing pains for the younger blueliners who will be asked to perform in a hostile environment for the first time this series.
What the Bruins want to do more than anything, however, is give themselves a chance to win by focusing on their own game and not worrying about the adjustments or personnel changes that might happen on the Rangers' side.
"They're at home and we know they're going to be desperate," Kelly said. "No one likes to get down three games in a series. And we can say that until we're blue in the face and know that they're going to come out hard, but like I said, we want to focus on ourselves. You start focusing on what they're going to do, I think it takes a little bit away from your own game."