This was by no means the same type of game the Bruins played in Washington in the season opener on October 3, 2018, where they fell 7-0 and basically didn’t show up. No, if you were looking at the number of shots on net and how the Boston Bruins were doing in the faceoffs and other statistics, you would have assumed they won the game. However, they fell for the 14th time to the Capitals on Thursday night, January 10, 2019, in the second of the three games they will play against Washington.
Of course, Braden Holtby was in net for the Capitals, and when it comes to the Bruins, he has almost been a form of kryptonite to them. They definitely tried to solve him on Thursday. When the teams went into the the first intermission, Boston had fired 17 shots on Holtby and had nothing to show for it. Unfortunately for them, the Washington Capitals, while only having five shots on Jaroslav Halak had a goal on the scoreboard—the result of a breakdown by the Bruins in the offensive zone that allowed Jakub Vrana a breakaway opportunity on which he capitalized. By the end of the game, the Bruins outshot the Capitals 17-5 in the first, 11-7 in the second, and 13-10 in the third, but lost the game 4-2.
Ryan Donato, even strength, and David Krejci, on the power play, would manage to tie the game twice, only to have the Capitals regain the lead. Alex Ovechkin responded 39 seconds after Donato’s goal in the second period and Nicklas Backstrom regained the lead 1:09 after Krejci’s goal in the third.
“I thought we certainly gave ourselves a chance to win the game, didn’t happen again against this team. So, have to get over that hurdle. A lot of nights that would be good enough for a point, if not two points, but not tonight,” shared Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. “First of all, it starts with defending well because they’re a very good offensive team. We did that for the most part. We, again, gave up some quality chances, but it wasn’t a lot of quantity. Obviously, another save, the difference-making play in the game. It’s 2-2. We get that save and come down, who knows how long it goes. That could’ve made a difference. We got some saves after that, but we weren’t able to put one by him to get the equalizer. Usually that play that makes a difference in a close game. They made it.”
There were a lot of hard hits, some pushing and shoving and words exchanged after the whistles, and not surprisingly Lars Eller was looking for some retribution from Brad Marchand for the October 3rd game when Marchand basically forced Eller to drop the gloves. Eller tried to get Marchand to go about 7:30 of the second period when the Capitals were up 1-0. Marchand chose not to reciprocate, keeping his gloves firmly on his hands. This resulted in Eller going off to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct and gave the Bruins a power play—which they were unsuccessful on.
“Obviously he didn’t want any part of it and everybody saw. You can’t fight a guy who doesn’t want to fight. Everybody saw what he is. I don’t know what else to say, I mean, we got out of here with two points. We got what we wanted,” said Eller.
“It’s a one-nothing game and to go on the power play in a situation like that, I don’t feel I need to prove anything to that guy,” Marchand said.
Marchand’s coach, of course, was pleased that his top line left winger showed restraint.
“Well, there was obviously some bad, some leftover residual effect from the previous game, but I think [Marchand] recognized the situation. We’re trying to win a hockey game. You take care of business, as [Marchand] did, when the game was basically decided last time. So, I thought he did – showed very good discipline. Did what he needed to do for the team to help us get on the power play, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to cash in,” Coach Cassidy said.
In the end, this was not to be the game to break the losing streak against the Capitals for the Bruins. However, Holtby recognized the efforts he saw from the team in black and gold.
“Yeah, I mean, they worked to generate what they got, and obviously power plays were where they got probably their best opportunities, but I mean, I guess with shot totals, goals, you can never really tell, but it’s two good teams, and you know, probably tonight, they deserved to win just as much as we did. That’s how good the game was, and that’s fun hockey to play,” he said.
The Bruins need to put this one behind them because they will be playing on the road Saturday night against another team that is doing well—the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Bruins fell 4-2 to the Capitals on Thursday, the Leafs won 4-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and go into Saturday’s game with a 7-3-0 record in their last ten games. They also sit in second place in the Atlantic Division ahead of the Bruins by four points with a game in hand.