Bruins give away yet another game

MONTREAL -- A visibly dejected and shocked Patrice Bergeron stood in an almost-empty Boston Bruins dressing room at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. He and his teammates had just blown a late 2-0 lead to their archrival Montreal Canadiens, losing 3-2 in overtime after a complete collapse in the third period that allowed the Habs to score twice in the final three minutes.

Bergeron spoke softly but to the point and, as always, fully grasped the importance of such a loss not only in the sense that the Bruins and Canadiens are now tied in points atop the Northeast Division but also that this heartbreaking defeat came against the hated Habs in a game that could've sent the Bruins on a roll through a crucial stretch of their season and the Canadiens into a downward spiral.

"We started scrambling and panicking a bit for no reason [in the third period]," Bergeron told the media scrum. "It's a tough way to lose a point against Montreal."

This was the second time the Bruins had relinquished a lead in the third period (the last time coming in the seesaw 7-6 shootout loss at Buffalo on Jan. 1), and a bit of complacency seems to be creeping into their game. For whatever reason, the Bruins appear comfortable letting the opponent give them their best shot and then hoping that they can bend but not break.

Although Tim Thomas has bailed his teammates out plenty of times this season, this nasty habit is starting to show itself more. And against a speedy team like Montreal, it got totally exposed.

"We had the game in our hand, and we just let it go," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "If we're up 2-0, we just gotta find a way to find a way to put those games away and win those games. We know how to win, but we didn't get some bounces and we didn't play the right way in those last few minutes."

It's not as though the Bruins are planning to sit back and ignore this, but the problem is that it's happening.

"That's not our game plan," Bergeron said. "But we have to fix this."

With the next four games coming against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins again, the Bruins can't afford not to fix this. They can't think that only 40, 50 and even 57 minutes of dictating their system and applying their game will suffice.

"I thought we played a really good game but took that bad penalty late in the third, and we gave up a bad goal," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And from there on in, we take another bad penalty in overtime so, ya know, we shot ourselves in the foot. And those are individual mistakes and things that end up costing you.

"They found a way to win, and we found a way to give it to them."

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.