For the first 57 and a half minutes of the night, it looked like the Bruins were going to send everyone home happy and fans could relish in defeating Tyler Seguin in his first trip back to Boston.
And then the wheels fell off just before the checkered flag.
A bad line change by the Bruins let Vernon Fiddler get a breakaway to the net and Dennis Seidenberg was forced to pull him down from behind, resulting in a penalty shot for Dallas. A nifty backhand shot by Fiddler over Tuukka Rask’s shoulder silenced the TD Garden crowd and tied the game 2-2 with just over 2:30 left to play.
“Bad [line] change on the tying goal; real bad change,” said coach Claude Julien. “It’s not just young guys [making mistakes]: it’s good players, it’s everybody right now… We’re not playing well right now and we’re finding ways to lose vs. finding ways to win.”
The teams remained tied through overtime, and after Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins up, 1-0, in the first round of the shootout, it was his former teammates who sealed the 3-2 loss for Boston, as Seguin tied the shootout in the second round and Rich Peverley scored the game winner in the fourth.
“It came down to a shootout because we played at the level of the other team,” Julien said. “Not to take anything away from them, but I like to think we’re a better team than what we showed tonight. [The] first 10 minutes were good, and then we got back to some of our old habits and eventually, when you play that way, you find ways to lose hockey games and that’s what we’re doing right now: we’re finding ways to lose.”
Julien did not want to talk about who scored the shootout goals to send the Bruins to their fourth loss in five games.
“I don’t care about that,” he said. “Give it a break; I’m mad because we lost.”
The shootout loss overshadowed Torey Krug’s fifth goal of the year and Milan Lucic’s seventh; the latter’s equaling the total he scored through all of last year’s 46-game regular season.
Early in the contest, despite the game being tied, 1-1, the Bruins controlled all of the action, outshooting the Stars, 15-1, halfway through the first period, but were sluggish in the final minutes of that period and almost all of the second period.
“It’s great that we had a good start, but unfortunately we had a pretty big lull for the next 30 minutes,” Lucic said. “Right now that’s the biggest problem with our group right now: we’re not playing as a team for the full 60 minutes; we’re making costly turnovers in areas in which we usually don’t, [areas] that [have] made us a successful team over the past couple of years.
“[We have to] stop worrying about the big picture; just worry about the basics and the little things: chipping pucks in; good breakouts; good transition; [getting] good, clean, hard passes; and it’s just not there right now.”
The Bruins weren’t fazed by facing two former teammates who were important in helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Final twice in the past three seasons, winning it all in 2011.
“It was different, but we’re used to that,” said Brad Marchand. “Every year you have guys leave that you play against at one point or another; we’re obviously friends, but on the ice that’s all off the table, anything goes out there. It was different seeing them on the other side, but again, it’s a game and a business and we have to make sure we do our job.”
The Bruins are 1-3-1 over their last five outings and are having trouble finding consistency in closing out games. Tuesday night’s loss was reminiscent of the 4-3 loss to New Jersey Oct. 26, when the Bruins held a 3-2 lead with less than three minutes to play, but two costly penalties in the final minutes let the Devils score twice.
“One of the biggest things that [the veterans] press [during slumps] is just staying positive,” said Reilly Smith, who assisted on Krug’s goal. “If you start being negative and getting down on your teammates and yourself, you just kind of put yourself into a bigger slump… These lulls will happen in a season, but it’s just how you get out of them.”
The Bruins’ only win in the last week and a half came Oct. 31 against the Ducks in a game in which they had to come back from a deficit of their own in the final three minutes to tie the game and later win in a shootout.
“It just seems like everything is out of sync right now,” Lucic said. “Right now we got to do whatever we can to try and get ourselves out of this jam, out of this funk. Frustration is not going to help us get through it; we [have] got to dig deep and start doing things the right way if we want to start playing better.”