The Bruins were humiliated in Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, falling behind 4-0 after one period and eventually losing, 6-1.
Steven Stamkos reached the 50-goal mark for the second time in his career with two goals as the Lightning took advantage of another flat start by the Bruins and never looked back.
The Bruins have lost three straight, and if the Senators beat the Canadiens on Wednesday night, Boston and Ottawa will be tied atop the Northeast Division for the third seed in the Eastern Conference with the Bruins holding two games in hand.
Injuries aside, something is missing -- No one will argue that the Bruins have been hammered by the injury bug over the last month, but the lack of urgency and desire they have shown since losing to Vancouver on Jan. 7 is a major concern. In that game, the Bruins were beaten at their own game as the Canucks played a relentless and physical game in standing up to the team that basically outmuscled and outworked them in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Since then, the Bruins are 14-14-2 and seem to be waiting for someone else to turn the switch on for them.
"The thing that keeps coming up right now -- and the thing I can sense -- is that fatigue is setting in," coach Claude Julien said to reporters in Tampa after the game. "It's the biggest challenge I have now."
Bruins fall behind early again -- For the fourth time in their last six games, the Bruins fell behind by two goals in the first nine minutes. But this time the deficit grew much larger before Boston showed any signs of life. The Bruins were down 3-0 only 4:31 into the game and 4-0 after the first period. They would allow another goal 3:06 into the second period to fall behind 5-0 before Jordan Caron made it 5-1 early in the third.
"You give those teams leads, and all of a sudden guys are getting frustrated and we just get away from our game plan," Julien said. "We are starting to cheat to get those goals back. We are making bad decisions."
Turco in and out and in again -- Bruins goalie Marty Turco made his first start with the Bruins but was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots. Turco was replaced by Tim Thomas, but Thomas didn’t fare much better as he allowed two goals on five shots and was replaced by Turco 3:06 into the second period. Turco stopped five of six shots the remainder of the game.
Caron only bright spot -- Jordan Caron had the Bruins’ lone goal and now has four goals and four assists in his last six games.
Bergeron plays, but then leaves early in third -- Patrice Bergeron was in the lineup after suffering a lower-body injury while blocking a shot Sunday at New York, but he left the game in the third period after inadvertently blocking another shot. Daniel Paille also returned after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury. Forward Benoit Pouliot (lower body) and defenseman Adam McQuaid (lower body) did not play. Recent call-up Trent Whitfield was in the lineup after Lane MacDermid was sent back to Providence.
Here’s what the lineup looked like Tuesday:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Caron