KANATA, Ontario — The Bruins continue to make it hard on themselves, and opposing teams remain all too happy to take advantage.
Even rebuilding clubs like the Senators.
Despite having the gifts of Patrice Bergeron for the first time in seven games, the Bruins couldn’t establish a consistent attack against the scrappy Sens. A 5-2 loss Monday at Canadian Tire Center extended Boston’s winless streak to three games (0-2-1).
They pushed in the latter two periods, rather than the final frame only, but Senators goalie Anders Nilsson stopped 38 of 40 shots. The high-volume Bruins put 32 pucks on net in the final two periods, outshooting the Sens, 16-5, in the third.
It added up to Boston’s first regular season loss to Ottawa since April 6, 2017, ending a 10-game run over their division rival. They have now lost five games in regulation (20-5-6).
The Bruins went down, 3-1, after two, but couldn’t cut the edge closer than two.
With Tuukka Rask off on a 6-on-4 power play, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a shorthanded empty-netter with 2:58 to go. TSN’s cameras showed Bergeron and Brad Marchand shaking their heads after Pageau’s breakaway strike, their broadcast team of Gord Miller and Mike Johnson believing both players were upset about the goalie pull.
But Torey Krug faulted himself for making a poor decision to shoot. His floater was blocked, and rushed the other way.
Moments before after a penalty expired, Jake DeBrusk jammed home a loose puck to make it a two-goal game.
With one second left, Anthony Duclair scored his second of the game into an empty net.
Rask made 23 saves on 26 shots.
Here are observations from the game:
■ The Bruins went 1 for 5 on the power play, the latter two of those being mini-man-ups of 23 seconds and 1 minute in the third.
■ The Senators blocked 28 shots in total.
■ A bad change, a bad bounce and a bad idea had the Bruins down, 3-1, after two periods. They failed to score the first goal yet again, playing what Brad Marchand referred to last week as “a loser’s game.” Starting strong was a focus.
■ The Bruins were caught in a bad change when Artem Anisimov made it 1-0 on a backhand breakaway 1:35 into the game. Defenseman John Moore was too far up the ice, and Matt Grzelcyk (playing his off side) couldn’t get on in time. Charlie Coyle, backchecking desperately, couldn’t stop him. Rask didn’t look like he read the roof job, which sailed over his glove.
■ Anthony Duclair made it 2-0 off a bad bounce. Bothered by Vlad Namestnikov’s check along the half-wall, Chris Wagner floated a high rim behind the net. It clanked sharply off the glass, rather than safely toward the corner, and Moore had a front-row seat to watch Chris Tierney feed Duclair in the slot at 15:44. Rask had trouble with that one, too.
■ The Bruins got one back some two minutes later. A quick 2-on-1 saw Pastrnak go cross-ice to Bergeron, who slammed it into an open half of the net. Old school. It was Bergeron’s first goal since Nov. 8 at Detroit.
■ Through 40 minutes, Bergeron won 11 of 16 faceoffs. The rest of the Bruins centermen lost 16 of 19.
■ Marchand made the play happen with good puck protection in the neutral zone, and a slick, short dish to Pastrnak as he entered the zone. Pastrnak, as usual, was selling shot the whole way before zipping a no-look feed to his pal. Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, the ex-Leaf defending the play, was completely fooled.
■ The Bruins had momentum at that point, but Rask gave the Sens an early Christmas present. Just 1:21 into the second, a simple dump-in by Duclair turned into an empty-netter. Rask stopped the puck behind the net, but slipped a backhand to the corner, expecting a teammate to be there. Instead, Namestnikov was. He found Tierney, who slung it upstairs.
■ Boston’s slumping power play had three chances in the second period after that, going 0 for 3 and landing eight shots. The B’s finished 1 for 5 on the PP, breaking an 0-for-16 skid.
■ They had plenty of opportunities and zone time, their skates and sticks looking magnetic as they kept pucks in the zone. But they were offline. One of their best chances came from Pastrnak, who hissed a slapper from the high slot wide after a loose puck bounced to him. Anders Nilsson got his paddle on a Heinen follow-up.
■ Tough game for Heinen. With 5:35 left in the first, he hit Nilsson’s right pad with a stuff-in attempt from DeBrusk, who fed him from behind the net. He couldn’t elevate the puck. He also lost his net-front spot on the top power play unit.
■ Nilsson was strong, making 23 saves through two periods. The big Swede (6 foot 6) stopped several hard redirects, including one off the stick of teammate Mark “BoroCop” Borowiecki. His mates blocked 16 shots in front of him through 40 minutes. Nilsson lost four starts in a row coming in, allowing 13 goals in his previous 65 shots.
■ Brady Tkachuk might switch to wood sticks, or at least think about it. He had a chance to make it 2-0 early in the first period, when Zdeno Chara lost a loose puck to Connor Brown at the red line. Brown scooted down the wing, shot for a rebound, low to Rask’s right pad, and a crashing Tkachuk had an open side of the net. But Tkachuk’s Bauer busted in two, and the puck dribbled wide of the post. He shook his head all the way to the bench.
■ The Bruins came in having led for all of 7:54 in their previous three games (Colorado, Chicago, Carolina). That’s 4.3 percent of the time. That rate dropped to 3.6 percent after two periods Monday . . . and that was by rounding up.
■ The Bruins entered with the NHL’s best record when trailing first (7-1-3). The Senators had the second-worst mark when scoring first (6-6-0).
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports.