FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Goaltender Tuukka Rask did not hide his disgust with the Boston Bruins' performance in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Rask did not mince words evaluating a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, an outcome that would have been worse if Rask hadn't played so well in the first period, when the Bruins were outshot 14-3 and went 14:50 without a shot on goal.
Because Rask made 13 saves in the first period, the Bruins were still in the game; however, even a 1-0 deficit proved too big for them to overcome. Four of the five goals allowed by Rask were the result of some impressive hand-eye coordination on the part of the Canadiens, and he was often left to fend for himself.
"Embarrassing more than disappointing," Rask said. "Embarrassing loss. I haven't seen us play so bad in a while. It was bad. You would think that, especially when we're missing guys like we are, you'd have to play hard and stick with the system. It definitely didn't look like it today.
"Overall we definitely didn't deserve to win."
The motivation for the Bruins to compete was there. A win would have put a bow on their Winter Classic experience while moving them into first place in the Atlantic Division. Though center David Krejci (upper body) and left wing Brad Marchand (suspension) did not play, the Bruins had the majority of support from the 67,246 at Gillette Stadium and were facing a Canadiens team that went 3-11-0 in December.
Instead, Boston, which went 0-for-3 on the power play, lost for the fourth time in five games and let its fourth attempt to take over first place slip away. Two key players were missing, but so was the Bruins' effort and drive, and that's what had Rask so upset.
"I think mentally we were not there, I guess, and we weren't executing the game plan like we wanted to," Rask said. "When a couple of little things go wrong like that it becomes big, and that's the way it looked. We gave them a ton of scoring chances there in the first two periods and that's unlike us."
The Canadiens bulldozed the Bruins from the drop of the puck, out-attempting them 27-4 in the first period.
"Tuukka was the reason why we were down by one," Boston center Patrice Bergeron said. "We had to find something to get back into the game and it wasn't happening. Even the chances we got, the few chances where we could have maybe get a goal and we weren't bearing down and we weren't making plays. It can't happen and it's definitely a tough loss for us.
"I think everyone's really disappointed, really frustrated with the way we showed up today. And I can't pinpoint one reason why, but it's tough to get embarrassed like that in a big game."
Along with the Canadiens' free fall in December, Rask is a big reason the Bruins have been flirting with first place. After starting 3-3-1 with a 3.29 goals-against average and .889 save percentage, Rask went 6-2-2 with a 1.54 GAA and.948 save percentage in 10 December games.
However, the Canadiens have had Rask's number throughout his career; he is 4-15-3 against him. Given what was at stake and the grandeur of the NHL's signature regular-season event, he left Gillette Stadium wholly unfulfilled and eager to look ahead to playing the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
"When things go wrong you have to stick to the game plan and play your system, and we didn't do that. It just snowballs and it becomes 5-1," Rask said. "It was a great event, but when you lose like that it takes the fun out of it, obviously. Too bad we couldn't give the fans a little bit more to cheer for."