BOSTON -- For the second time this season, the Bruins blew a third-period lead against their bitter rivals from Montreal and lost a battle for first place in the Northeast Division in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens.
The Bruins entered the third period with a 4-2 lead, but the Habs scored two late third-period goals -- the second from Andrei Markov with 8.2 seconds left -- then beat the Bruins in the sixth round of the shootout on a Brendan Gallagher goal.
Boston had erased an early 2-0 deficit to get the 4-2 lead as they got second-period goals from Patrice Bergeron, Dougie Hamilton, Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton. And even after former Bruin Michael Ryder scored his second goal of the game 3:58 into the third period the Bruins regained the two-goal lead on a Tyler Seguin goal at 11:50. But Gallagher scored only 28 seconds later to start another Montreal comeback.
Tuukka Rask, who has been criticized by coach Claude Julien as of late for not making timely saves, was not sharp as he allowed five goals on 28 shots. His counterpart Carey Price was pulled after allowing four second-period goals and relieved by Peter Budaj, who made 14 saves in regulation and then stopped six Bruins shooters in the shootout.
Lack of discipline leads to another collapse -- Following his team's game day skate Julien said that two keys to victory for the Bruins on Wednesday would be that they play with disciplined physicality and have a strong start. His team had neither in the first period and for the first three minutes of the second period as they fell behind 2-0 and gave the Habs three power plays in that span. But just before Hamilton's goal and even more so after it, they started buzzing and reverted to the physical game they thrive off. They also stayed out of the box, which translated into a furious comeback that saw them go up 4-2 headed into the third period. But the wheels fell off again as the Bruins lost their composure and allowed three third-period power-play goals.
Keep Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin together -- Julien shuffled his lines again Wednesday and once again had Marchand separated from Bergeron and Seguin. He reunited the trio in the second period and again made a firm case for staying together. For the night, Bergeron had a goal and three assists, Seguin had a goal and two assists and Marchand had a helper to go with his goal. There is no need to mess with success and Julien would be wise to leave that line intact.
Rookie wakes up his team -- Following the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Habs on March 3, Hamilton told the media how much he enjoyed being part of the Bruins-Habs rivalry and how he wished he had contributed more in that game. He did just that by cutting an early 2-0 Montreal lead to 2-1 and waking his team up from a flat start. Hamilton seems to thrive in big games, which is a great sign for the Bruins and their fans.
Horton finally finds twine -- Milan Lucic ended his goal drought Monday and on Wednesday his linemate Horton did the same, scoring his first goal in five games and only his second in his last 14. Following Lucic's lead, Horton played with more passion and purpose, using his physical edge and size. If he and Lucic can continue it, the line with them and David Krejci might start playing to their potential again.
Bruins can't get power-play goal when needed most -- The Bruins entered the game mired in an 0-for-10 power-play drought, having not scored on the man advantage since March 16 against the Capitals. But Bergeron converted on the man advantage at 17:01 of the second period. The Bruins, however, wasted a golden opportunity in overtime when Alexei Emelin took a hooking penalty 3:40 into the extra frame and the Bruins didn't convert. They finished the night 1-for-4.
Bartkowski a healthy scratch -- With trade rumors running rampant a week ahead of the trade deadline, it was curious to see defenseman Matt Bartkowski as a healthy scratch Wednesday night after signing a one-year extension Tuesday. In his place was Torey Krug, who was called up from Providence earlier in the day. When news broke that Jarome Iginla was a healthy scratch in Calgary, rumors began to run rampant in the press box and on Twitter that Bartkowski would be part of a trade for the Flames captain, but he was still in the press box at the end of the game. Krug looked good in his 2013 debut as he assisted on Bergeron's power-play goal in the second period and Seguin's third-period goal.