Capitals 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
Hitting the nitty-gritty part of their compressed schedule, the Bruins were forced to forget about their disappointing loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Boston on Sunday and get ready for Tuesday’s meeting with the Washington Capitals in D.C., the first time the two teams have met since last year’s Stanley Cup quarterfinals.
The Caps had the B’s number in 2012, winning three out of four in the regular season and bouncing the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in seven games of the opening round of the playoffs.
It might be safe to say that a lot of Bruins players still had the sour taste of the Joel Ward overtime game-winner that sent them packing last year still lingering in their mouth, as they were able to put together one of their best opening periods as a team this season.
Some very bad backchecking by the Caps early on led to Alex Ovechkin committing a hook on a Brad Marchand breakaway, giving the Bruins forward and leading scorer a free shot at Braden Holtby on a penalty shot. Marchand took the puck at center ice and went five-hole on Holtby, opening the scoring and continuing his own personal hot streak. Marchand’s goal gives him points in nine of the last 11 games and is the first Bruins successful PS attempt since Shawn Thornton’s epic toe drag last January. 1-0 Bruins
Speaking of Thornton, the B’s enforcer dropped the gloves with John Erskine in the opening period as well, his first bout since being pummeled by the Sabres’ John Scott back on January 31st. Fortunately for Thornton, this fight went quite a bit smoother than the one previous.
The Bruins struck again with just under three minutes left in the first, when a wide-open Zdeno Chara entered the zone and took a Milan Lucic pass at the right point and wristed it on net. Chara’s initial shot appeared to hit David Krejci in the, um, giblets before Chara took the deflection and followed up by burying it in the twine. A pretty painful assist for Krejci, but he’s a hockey player. 2-0 Bruins
Shortly thereafter, Ovechkin leveled Chris Kelly in the neutral zone with what appeared to be was a very clean, shoulder-to-shoulder hit but was penalized with a two-minute penalty for interference. The Bruins won the ensuing faceoff and fed Dougie Hamilton at the top of the zone and he blasted a one-timer through the legs of Holtby. Tough break for the Caps. 3-0 Bruins
The second period wasn’t as kind to the Bruins, as the Caps outplayed the Bruins and didn’t let it turn into a blowout. Ovechkin made his presence felt early on, hitting the post with a backhand attempt before eventually regaining possession and feeding it across the slot to Mike Ribeiro, who put home the one-timer to get the Caps on the board. 3-1 Bruins
About five minutes later, Tomas Kundratek tallied his first career NHL goal and cut the Bruins lead in half when he beat Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot from the top of the right point. Not exactly what you’d like to see from the B’s when they had the chance to put this one away early. 3-2 Bruins
The third period brought a lot of back-and-forth, fast paced hockey with both teams getting their fair of chances. With just over six minutes left to go in regulation, Eric Fehr led a Caps breakout and attempted to throw a shot at Rask in Bruins zone. The puck deflected off of Dougie Hamilton and Wojtek Wolski cut through the defense and send a backhander through the legs of Rask, tying the game and completing the comeback from their early three-goal deficit. 3-3
After the Capitals were able to kill off an Alex Ovechkin penalty in the closing minutes of the game, Ovie exited the box and was greeted with a breakaway as he grabbed a dump pass and took it full steam ahead towards Tuukka Rask, and never really slowed down. Ovechkin got bumped in front of the net and crashed extremely hard into Rask, who still managed to turn away Ovie’s shot, and went sliding into the boards behind the goal line. Rask looked a bit shaken up after the collision but was able to skate it off and looked to be fine.
Tuukka’s stop of Ovechkin’s breakaway forced overtime and secured a point for both teams, but the Caps didn’t wait around to try and earn that second point. Just 37 seconds into OT, Eric Fehr took a pass from Niklas Backstrom and charged into the Bruins zone, splitting Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg before beating Tuukka Rask top shelf glove side while falling to the ice. 4-3 Capitals
It was a sick game-winner by Fehr and sometimes you just need to tip your cap to a spectacular effort like that, but the Bruins defense clearly needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to collapsing…especially Dougie Hamilton, who had one of the worst defensive games in his young NHL career.
1. Eric Fehr – 1 goal, 2 assists, +3
2. Zdeno Chara – 1 goal, 0 assists, 0 +/-
3. Tomas Kundratek – 1 goal, 1 assist, +2
Next Game: Thursday, March 7 vs. Maple Leafs (7:00 P.M. EST)