(Photo: Washington Post)

After falling 4-3 to Buffalo in OT on Wednesday, the Bruins looked towards the win during their first home contest since the Olympic break. The Washington Capitals skated into town following a 5-4 win over the Panthers on Thursday. Both teams looked to keep their energy going into the weekend contests. That momentum will need to continue or be found as the Bruins play in New York for a 7 pm start against the Rangers tomorrow. The Capitals face the Flyers tomorrow afternoon as well.

Boston looked towards Finland bronze medalist Tuukka Rask to man the pipes, the game marked his first start post Olympic break.

“I felt pretty good, I felt pretty good,” said Bruins Rask. “A little rested. Afternoon games are always different, your preparations a little bit different but I felt good.”

Braden Holtby, aimed to protect the crease for the Capitals, with an 18-13-2 record on the season thus far.
Despite falling short in Sochi for his native Russia, Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin has been an offensive powerhouse, leading the NHL with 41 goals just past the midway point of the season.

A slow start for both teams, albeit heavy with penalties, Washington had a chance to strike first when Bruins Soderberg hit the sin bin at 4:13 for holding Fehr’s stick. Next up, Capitals Beagle, holding and Wilson, high stick at 6:57. Despite numerous opportunities on the power play, the Bruins couldn’t convert the score from zero. Bruins Kelly took an interference penalty late in the period at 18:12, allowing Capitals Ovechkin to tally his 42nd goal at 18:39 from Carlson and Backstrom, giving his team a 1-0 lead heading into the second.

Ovechkin has proven problematic for opponents and goaltenders across the league, the Bruins are no exception to the challenge of Washington’s captain.

“Well, I mean, if he gets those one timers with a half empty net, you’re pretty much going to score. You have to recognize that he’s out there and I don’t think we did a very good job today with that,” said Bruins Rask. “He had that shot in the first period before he scored and then he gets that goal and the next one I was almost positive he was going short sided but he kind of knuckled and he stalled and it went in. But if you keep giving him those one timers he’s going to find the back of the net.”

The second began with Boston on the penalty kill, Bartkowski for tripping just 47 seconds in. The penalty gave Ovechkin the chance to net goal 43, further proving his capabilities. The goal, from Johansson and Ward, marked his 800th career point, effectively putting the Capitals up 2-0.

“That’s not a milestone,” said Capitals Head Coach Oates. “You know what for him he’s a focal point of our league, he’s the face of the franchise, it’s important he does well for all of us, but in saying that he knows that he’s still one of twenty that lines up and plays every night so he’s got to do his job. We obviously cater to him and favor to him a little bit, but he’s also got to contribute.”

It was an unassisted goal from Ward at 10:13 that sent Boston into an already apparent tailspin and gave the Capitals a 3-0 close to the halfway point. With another chance to rally on the power play given at 10:37 after a tripping call on Capitals Chimera, Bergeron was golden at 10:54. Fresh off his gold medal win in Sochi, he netted his 17th of the season from Smith and Hamilton. The goal gave the Bruins a burst of life that was so desperately needed.

In a game laden with penalties from both sides, Capitals Fehr was called for high sticking at 14:11. The Bruins have proven time and time again this season, that their power play is lacking the most important component, power. They were again unsuccessful with Fehr’s penalty expiring. What felt as though mere moments had passed, the Bruins were able to grind the puck to the back of the net at 17:32, Thornton marked his 5th of the season, from Campbell and Paille. The goal pulled Boston within one of the previously commanding Capitals. But the high ridden was quickly cancelled, when yet again, the penalty kill was upon the Bruins shoulders. Marchand found himself subject to a tripping call. The call was almost instantaneously cancelled out and the strength evened two seconds into the kill as Capitals Backstrom took a slashing penalty at 18:29 — making it 4 on 4 hockey for the final minute and change of the second.

The effort for Boston wasn’t lacking, but the luck was. As the team missed the back of the net repeatedly in the third periods opening minutes. Marchand, with his second penalty of the game, went off for high sticking at 5:04. The penalty forced the Bruins to put the brakes on a powerful Capitals unit. While the power play for Boston has been dismal, the penalty kill usually thrives — although the Ovechkin factor proved greater than the kill during today’s contest. Washington found a way to stay out of the box in the third, as Fehr sealed Boston’s fate with his 10th of the season from Chimera, making it 4-2. With the Capitals managing to stay out of the box, the Bruins were unable to manage the same feat, Soderberg went off at 16:06 for a high stick on Green.

With a final of 4-2, Bruins Rask stopped 27 of 31 shots faced, while Capitals Holtby stopped 36 of 38 on the opposing end. The win put Washington at four consecutive, Holtby’s performance between the pipes greatly aided the success for his team. Generally, Boston is a good team, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed coming into the game.

“We obviously knew what they were capable of, they are a very strong team,” said Capitals Holtby. “Throughout the year actually we have played a lot better against good teams so that’s a good sign, and tonight we did too.”

It was a team loss for the Bruins, who look to right two consecutive losses at the glove and blocker of both their goaltenders. The play over the past two games is non-reflective of the solid end previously put forth prior to Olympic break. The underlying cause of the apparent collapse unknown, placing blame will get them nowhere.

“Well I mean, I know this team well enough — you know, they’re not gonna hang their hats and say well, it’s because of this, it’s because of that. We’ve always taken responsibility for, you know, our actions, and that’s not going to change,” said Bruins Head Coach Julien. “I think they all know in there that we have to work and compete a little harder. I think the emotion of our game has to be a little better. You know, I’m not sure after the first period — you know, I look at our stat sheet — we’ve got five hits. That’s not good enough for us. And you know, I think a lot of that is putting more emotion into your game, and we need to pick it up and get better starts. That way, we won’t be battling from behind. ”

Faced with a hectic March ahead, the rust that has built over break needs to be fixed, quickly.

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Winter was hooked on hockey by age 6, when she first witnessed a bench clearing brawl between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators. Growing from hockey fan to hockey player, Winter followed her passions by founding The Pink Puck. While she also loves fashion and the outdoors, hockey will always be her center ice. Email: winter@thepinkpuck.com Twitter: @Winter_Adams

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