The Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins head into their final game before a 10-day break on Tuesday night in Boston trying to come up with solutions for two very different problems.
Vegas, which comes in off a 5-4 shootout loss at Montreal on Saturday, has been outscored 13-1 in the first period in its last seven games and has fallen behind by at least three goals at the start in five of them.
The Golden Knights have dropped five of their last six games but still remain in a four-way tie for second place at 57 points in a very crowded Pacific Division.
Boston, meanwhile, has dropped three of its last four games including a 4-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Unlike Vegas, the Bruins have gotten off to quick starts but haven't been able to protect early leads.
Boston blew a 5-2 lead on Jan. 13 at Philadelphia and eventually lost 6-5 in a shootout. And in Sunday's loss to the Penguins, the Bruins built a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes but lost on Bryan Rust's goal with 7:25 remaining in the game.
The loss at Pittsburgh marked just the second time in 208 regular-season games in regulation that Boston (200-2-6) lost after having a three-goal lead since April 4, 2011, when the Bruins had a three-goal lead but fell to the New York Rangers.
"I don't think it's a matter of effort, I think it's a matter of being smart," said center Patrice Bergeron, according to NHL.com after scoring his 21st goal of the season just 11 seconds into the contest. "When you're forcing plays all the time in the wrong areas of the ice, they make you pay.
"You've got to play the same way you start a game and the way you know you're able to play. To me, the mindset should always be about the next shift no matter what the situation is. That's what we've got to get back to."
Said head coach Bruce Cassidy: "The goals we're giving up ... what is it? Lack of focus. Do we lose urgency? They're gifts. ... You can get outplayed (and) you will by teams in stretches. But they were gifts (against Pittsburgh)."
Vegas fell behind 3-0 in the first period at Montreal and trailed 4-2 midway through the third period. But the Golden Knights rallied to gain a valuable point by forcing overtime with two 6-on-5 goals in the final two minutes after pulling goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The 20th goal of the season by Reilly Smith came with eight seconds left to tie it.
"We did a good job battling back but we still put ourselves in the same situation," Smith said. "We're getting off to slow starts and teams are capitalizing. We've got to find a way to turn that around because it's too hard to come back in every game."
Ex-Golden Knight Tomas Tatar won it for the Canadiens with a goal in the fourth round of the shootout, handing coach Peter DeBoer his first loss in two games behind the bench since replacing Gerard Gallant on Wednesday.
"I thought we showed a lot of character," DeBoer said of the late comeback. "That's a big hole anywhere, particularly in this building. ... We didn't quit and scratched out a point, an important point."
Boston, which has lost just twice in regulation at home (16-2-9), won the first meeting between the two teams on Oct. 8 in Las Vegas, rallying from an 2-0 first-period deficit by scoring four consecutive goals, including two by Brad Marchand, in an eventual 4-3 victory.
--Field Level Media