On Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins scored a season-high five goals. Their best line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Tyler Seguin, broken up at the start of the night, poured in three goals after they were reunited. The Bruins chased Canadiens goalie Carey Price with four straight second-period strikes.
Yet after all that, Tuukka Rask was slamming the door to the equipment room after the game, steaming inside the gear he had yet to take off.
Rask was hot because the Bruins lost for the fifth time in March after having a third-period lead.This time, it was 6-5 in a shootout to the Canadiens.
Montreal shrugged off a 5-3 deficit with two third-period goals. Among 12 shootout snipers, Brendan Gallagher was the only player to put a puck in the net. The rookie slipped the puck five-hole on Rask to give the Canadiens the two-point result the Bruins believed was theirs.
“Tough night. Tough bounces,” said Rask (23 saves).
Dennis Seidenberg felt one of those bad bounces firsthand. At 11:50 of the third period, Seguin gave the Bruins a 5-3 lead. But less than 30 seconds later, Gallagher whipped a net-front shot off Seidenberg’s face. Before Seidenberg could recover, Gallagher had pounced on the rebound and beaten Rask at 12:18, making it 5-4.
And that wasn’t even the worst bounce.
With 1:27 remaining in regulation, the puck hopped off Aaron Johnson’s shaft and popped over the glass. Even though Johnson had no intentions of putting the puck into the stands, he was tagged with the obligatory delay of game penalty.
At 19:51, Andrei Markov whistled a shot from the left point. The puck glanced off the blade of Zdeno Chara and whizzed past Rask for the tying goal.
“The fourth one ends up going off Seidenberg’s face right to Gallagher,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “The tying goal, it’s unfortunate. Can’t blame your player. Hits the shaft of his stick and into the stands, and we end up shorthanded. We did our best to kill it six-on-four. But some nights you don’t get the breaks or the bounces. So, we certainly didn’t get them tonight. No doubt we could have been better. We still think some guys can be better for us. But we made some positive strides in scoring some goals, something we hadn’t done in a while.”
For Julien, giving away their second third-period lead of the month to the Canadiens wasn’t the sign of a team lifting its foot off the pedal. The Bruins were guilty of that shortcoming in previous meltdowns. Not this time.
“Tonight’s lead that evaporated wasn’t the same as the other ones I’ve seen,” Julien said. “The other ones, we totally collapsed as a team.”
The best production the Bruins got was from Bergeron’s line. Julien started the night by placing Daniel Paille on Bergeron’s left flank. Marchand was alongside Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron in the first period.
But by the second period, Marchand was back with Bergeron and Seguin. The Bruins, down, 2-0, by 2:53 of the second, needed Bergeron’s line to produce. It did.
On the first shift after P.K. Subban gave Montreal a 2-0 lead, Seguin hit the right post. He found his own rebound and spotted Dougie Hamilton open in the high slot. After taking Seguin’s feed, Hamilton winged a shot past Price (22 saves) at 3:32.
It was the first of three straight strikes created by the Bergeron line. At 7:23, Marchand jammed in his second attempt after whiffing with an initial backhand.
Marchand’s first miss highlighted the hesitation that’s crept into his game. He entered the night with just one goal in his last 11 games.
But Marchand’s second shot was confident and assertive. It was part of the message the coaching staff tried to deliver by starting Marchand on the third line: Don’t hesitate.
“Maybe it just let me know that I’ve got to simplify a little bit,” Marchand said. “At times, when you’ve been playing with each other for a while, you only look for each other and try to make pretty plays instead of doing things that work, which is keeping it simple and taking pucks to the net. That worked for us tonight.”
At 17:01, on an extended power play (Josh Gorges had broken his stick), Bergeron buried the rebound of a Torey Krug shot to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
The Bruins capped their four-goal, second-period outburst at 17:36. David Krejci forced a neutral-zone turnover, then sprinted the other way. On a two-on-one rush, Nathan Horton took Krejci’s feed and beat Price to make it 4-2.
The Canadiens never quit. Even though they played their second road game in two nights, Montreal continued to charge in the third, when Michael Ryder, Gallagher, and Markov beat Rask.
“We’re very disappointed with how the game finished,” Marchand said. “But we have to be happy we scored as many goals as we did. We haven’t been scoring like that lately. We played a pretty good game. I thought we probably deserved that win. A couple bounces and penalties didn’t turn out our way. But there are things we can definitely take out of that and be happy about.”Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.