And for the second time in that span, this 4-2 loss to the Canadiens was directly attributable to a breakdown in discipline by the Bruins.
Saturday's loss at the Bell Centre didn't feature a meltdown quite as epic as the 4-1 loss to Carolina at the Garden earlier this month, but Boston's inability to stay out of the penalty box still prevented the Bruins from having any real chance of pulling out a victory.
Some of the calls that went against the Bruins were undoubtedly questionable, but that's always going to be the case with the current state of the NHL's officiating. But the Bruins are in control of their own actions. They just aren't always in control of their emotions.
"We talk about discipline," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "There were some tough calls out there, but we all know you always get caught retaliating. They did a good job initiating and we got caught retaliating. It ended up being some tough calls against us and ended up costing us some goals.
"I thought it was a tough night as far as a lot of calls were concerned. That's my opinion," Julien continued. "But overall you don't blame that. You look at yourselves and again, our discipline. We have that reputation. It's there and we have to be careful because they're looking for us to do those kinds of things, retaliate and then penalize us. So we have to be smarter in that area."
The Canadiens got the first five power plays of the game, scoring on the first chance late in the opening period after Johnny Boychuk was sent to the box on a debatable holding call. Several other calls might not hold up to close scrutiny either, but the Bruins made plenty of their own mistakes.
"I think guys were a little more frustrated, as I was to be honest with you, in some of the things where we reached out with our stick and made a play and as soon as you put a finger on the player the [referee's] hand was up," Julien said. "That was frustration, and I think we lost our focus a bit in that area and that's when the other retaliatory penalties came into play."
Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was at the center of most of that. With the Bruins already down a man, he drew Andrew Ference into a roughing penalty when Ference took a pop at Subban to free himself from the blueliner after the whistle and Subban snapped his head back dramatically to further sell the call.
The Canadiens didn't score on the 5-on-3, but did strike just one second before Ference's penalty expired to make it a 3-0 game as David Desharnais scored what proved to be the game-winner.
Subban also drew Milan Lucic into a retaliatory slashing call at the end of the second that hampered Boston's comeback hopes. They had to open the third period shorthanded while trying to climb out of a 3-1 hole.
Subban's antics may have been infuriating, but the Bruins were madder at themselves for falling for them.
"We had No. 63 [Brad Marchand] last year getting under everybody's skin and we thought he did a great job at that, at goading people into taking penalties and frustrating them," Julien said. "Whether P.K. does that job, if he did it tonight, he did it well. Again, I don't discredit him for doing his job if we're not smart enough to take that responsibility to get goaded in, that's our problem."
The Bruins still had a chance to get back into the game with a 5-on-3 opportunity of their own early in the third. They couldn't convert the two-man advantage, and Nathan Horton cost them the rest of the 5-on-4 with a foolish cross-checking penalty retaliating against Hal Gill.
The Bruins pulled within one on a Tyler Seguin goal in the final minute, but never seriously threatened to beat the Habs. They were too busy beating themselves as their undisciplined play was simply too much to overcome.
"It's just the way it's happening," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "There are a lot of emotions involved in these games and guys sometimes do things that are just automatic. I'm sure if you asked them, they would take those things back. It's OK to play with emotion, but you have to be smart about it."
The Bruins haven't been a very smart team so far this season. And now the reigning Stanley Cup champions are left smarting from a 3-7-0 start to the season that has left them in last place in the Eastern Conference.
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