After the first half of the game, the Bruins’ listless effort appeared to net them one point through two games during their two game set in the nation’s capital.
David Pastrnak buried his first of the season, a laser beam from the top of the circles - at that point, everything changed.
An offensive zone faceoff culminated in Brad Marchand finding Pastrnak, who drifted into the soft spot above the coverage of two Capitals’ forwards. Suddenly, the Bruins deficit was cut to two and the team had revitalized energy.
Pastrnak scored the game’s second goal as well. As he curled around the cage, his defender blew a tire and one of the league’s best scoring threats found himself alone looping towards the net. He uncorked a wrister past Vitek Vanaeck.
Minutes later, Trent Frederic and the league’s best scorer, Tom Wilson, engaged in fisticuffs. A wild affair full of haymakers thrown with bad intentions, Frederic’s challenge to one of Salty Spitoon’s toughest members invigorated the Bruins’ bench.
“I haven’t watched much film on fighting,” admitted Frederic. Despite this, he held his own and then some.
Energized from the fight, the Bruins proceeded to score three goals in the final seven minutes. Craig Smith capitalized on a great pass from Jeremy Lauzon, who found Smith backing away from T.J. Oshie in the slot with a sweet backhand feed.
“In the box, I was like a little kid jumping around in there when we scored,” said Frederic.
Brandon Carlo got the game winning goal, finding space in the right faceoff circle and blasting the game winner where Gramma hides the cookies. Carlo read the play and Sean Kuraly outmuscled his opponent, delivering a terrific pass in the process. Marchand added an empty netter for good measure and the Bruins leave Washington D.C. with three out of four possible points, despite barely holding control of a lead in the two games.
Pastrnak’s goals and Frederic’s fight resembled a seismic shift, of sorts.
So, what happened before that?
While the Bruins were moving their legs well for the first seven or so minutes of the opening frame, the wheels quickly fell off. After Kevan Miller was called for interference after seemingly dodging a hit, the ice tilted viciously in the Capitals’ favor. The team appeared listless, failing to take the body or control any substantive possession.
BIG ZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 2, 2021
that's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/0mqKw8aVRa
Zdeno Chara scored against his former team, rifling a point shot past close friend and countryman Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins, seemingly affected by their former captain opening the scoring, allowed Daniel Sprong to waltz down the ice and double the score 11 seconds later. The defensemen allowed Capitals’ forwards to drift deep into the zone and forwards sluggishly waved sticks at Sprong. A tough goal for Halak and the Bruins to allow, one that definitely stung after Chara’s rope.
The Bruins’ definitely came out stronger in the middle frame, but it was far from perfect. Their power play, which featured five forwards and David Krejci manning the point, remained stagnant. It relied heavily on setting up into formation and focused too much on hitting one perfect pass, which ultimately drained momentum from the club.
prettyyyyy prettty prettyy goood pic.twitter.com/EpM6moURm3— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 2, 2021
On the penalty kill, Chris Wagner overcommitted trying to syphon off a play and force a turnover at the blue line. Thus, the Bruins’ formation was bent out of shape and John Carlson had all the time and space to waltz down broadway. Charlie Coyle did not cut off Carlson, presumably to fend off an Ovechkin clap bomb from the left circle. Carlson’s snap beat Halak and increased the home team’s lead to three.
The second half of the game, a totally different team emerged. The Bruins showcased determination, grit, and a ‘never die’ attitude that the club is famous for.
As the famous saying goes, all’s well that ends well.