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RECAP: Bruins fall in shootout to Capitals, despite leading with a minute remaining in regulation

The loser points will be valuable come March, but man, that was a tough week to stomach.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

This game had a quiet start - not to overplay the dual back-to-back challenges, but it did seem like both teams needed some extra time getting up to speed. After a few minutes, play picked up, including a 1-on-4 rush by David Pastrnak and, another few minutes later, another stickhandling display from Brad Marchand gave the crowd, and the game, some more energy.

Charlie Coyle tallied another goal, off a well-feathered pass from Danton Heinen, from half-wall to Coyle’s stick in the low slot. after cycling the puck from Charlie McAvoy’s pinch to the attacking corner.

Coyle used the goal as a springboard into his next shift, disrupting a Washington rush in the neutral zone and receiving a pass to jump right back up the ice. No shot produced, but the effort was visible.

A plinky goal by Washington knotted things up a few minutes later, and the last five minutes of the period seemingly disappeared - that is, until Brad Marchand and Michal Kempny mixed it up after a whistle with the Bruins on the power play following a hook from Radko Gudas. Tom Wilson rushed in, and it became a crowd until players were separated. Another odd bounce on a shot from the Capitals in the last few seconds had the Garden worried a little, but a bounce of luck went Halak’s way.

Second Period

The energy carried forward - this time, it took less than a minute to get a shot on goal, by David Pastrnak no less. The period wasn’t five minutes old by the time he struck in a way that counted - and off what started as a passing play, but broke apart before Charlie McAvoy’s point shot bounced right to Pasta.

A penalty each in the middle of the period slowed down the game a little; Boston’s penalty kill was up first, and managed to cycle the puck behind the Caps’ defense two or three times in a row, killing most of the disadvantage. The Capitals were content to let Boston cycle on the power play as well. It managed to lull the B’s to sleep for a shift or two, because it looked as though the Capitals had a power play set up on the Bruins after killing their own penalty.

For the second time, Washington decided they wanted to start the period at a disadvantage, as Evgeny Kuznetsov took a tripping penalty just seconds before the end of the period.

Third Period

Again, Boston’s power play was able to set up in the zone and earn a couple offensive-zone faceoffs. They couldn’t, however, muster much of a direct shot on Braden Holtby - and the Caps were especially good at blocking shooting lanes for Matt Grzelcyk from the point. After the advantage was over, Anders Bjork had a great legwork shift and even managed to get his stick in the way of an Alex Ovechkin one-timer.

Random tussles would start after random stoppages in play... and for what seemed like kind of random reasons. A tangle between Urho Vaakanainen and Lars Eller ended up creating a wrestling match between two players completely separate from that play.

Tom Wilson, a “recently renovated” player after a few years of over-aggressive antics, landed a firm shoulder hit on Chris Wagner on the backcheck. That lit the Bruins on fire - and, though Chara missed a hit on him later in the period, McAvoy took his moment to shine. His hit on Wilson was a little sketchy (recall the hit that earned a suspension for McAvoy in the playoffs last year) but clean, until jawing and a stick hold from Wilson brought Chara into the mix.

The captain and the Caps pest both headed to the box, opening up the ice a bit for four-on-four. No scoring.

With four minutes left, Boston pulled back into a bit of a defensive shell. They had stacked four defenders on the edge of their zone for a few rushes by the Caps’ top line, and otherwise were content at forcing Washington to the outside. It produced a few defensive-zone faceoffs but gave them the opportunity to regroup frequently and make the Caps earn the puck in between cycles. Urho was on the ice inside of three minutes, and thanked his winger after getting himself pinned behind Halak by the Caps forecheck.

Moral of the story: Never get complacent.

With Holtby pulled and less than a minute to go in regulation, T.J. Oshie tied the game at two.


Rushes. Hockey. Way too much empty space on the ice. Mostly Washington possessing the puck and clearing to the neutral zone, with a couple shots dusted in. Also, Jaro Halak was absolutely locked in - most of the game, sure, but made another stellar post-to-post split to stop the Caps’ best chance in OT.

No goal.


Caps win. Good dekes all around, but it’s goals first from Charlie Coyle, then by Nick Backstrom in the third round and Jakub Vrana in the fifth that take the game for Washington. Vrana particularly had a slick Datsyuk pullback to put the B’s on the hook, and Chris Wagner couldn’t get it past Holtby. Sting though it might, Vrana’s goal is worth seeing again.

Thus ends a very busy week, which saw the Bruins take five of eight possible points for the standings. Two days off should hopefully do this team some good.