Such was the situation the Bruins faced on Friday night, as they traveled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres and left with a 2-1 loss, their sixth in a row.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period on goals by Henrik Tallinder and Thomas Vanek, the B's rebounded midway through the second when Marc Savard assisted Milan Lucic's lamp-lighter, but that is as much offense as the Bruins would get.
Tuukka Rask saved 21 of 23 shots, while Team USA representative Ryan Miller had 30 saves on 31 shots.
Sabres 2, Bruins 1
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.
Jan. 29, 2010
Headliner: The Sabres were already in prime position to win after going up 1-0 within four minutes of the puck drop, but Thomas Vanek extended the lead to 2-0 with a power-play goal with 2:28 left in the first period.
Vanek now has 37 points in just 33 career games against the Bruins.
Grinder: Milan Lucic and Marc Savard proved how much of a difference it makes to have somewhat of a healthy lineup on the ice, as the two combined for Boston's first and only goal of the night.
Savard, in his first game back from a knee sprain, assisted Lucic's goal midway through the second period, pulling the Bruins back within 2-1. Friday's game marked Lucic's 10th of the season.
Weak Link: The Bruins victimized themselves with sloppy play in the first period that led to three penalties: one on Shawn Thornton (roughing), one on Vladimir Sobotka (interference) and one on Marc Savard (high-sticking). Boston's penalty kill managed to hold strong until the third period, when it allowed a goal by Vanek with 2:28 left in the period. The goal put the Bruins in a 2-0 hole, and the penalties didn't allow Boston to establish any kind of rhythm throughout the first 20 minutes of play.
Key Moment: Had the Bruins headed into the first intermission down 1-0 against the best team in their division, they wouldn't have had anything to hang their heads about. But Marc Savard's high-sticking penalty with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the first frame put the Bruins' penalty kill on display for the third time that period, and finally, Buffalo broke through as Vanek registered his 16th goal of the season.
The Bruins put themselves in a deep hole against a team with an imperturbable goaltender and they failed to establish any positive momentum in the first frame of a crucial game. And when the B's went into the second intermission trailing a team that boasted a 19-0-0 record when leading after two, this one was essentially over.
Up Next: The Bruins don't have much time to recover from this one, as they head back to Boston to face Los Angeles on Saturday at 7 p.m. These two teams met just two weeks ago, and the Kings took the shootout win in L.A. The Bruins were up 3-1 in the third period before allowing the Kings to score twice to force overtime.
The Kings are in third place in the Pacific Division (prior to Friday's games) with 65 points, 14 behind the division-leading Sharks. Center Anze Kopitar leads the team in points (53), goals (22) and assists (31). Starting goaltender Jonathan Quick boasts a 2.56 GAA.
With Tuukka Rask in net on Friday, Tim Thomas will almost definitely get the start at the Garden on Saturday.