Any hope of another comeback by the Capitals against the Bruins were put to rest by Boston's early third period goal. Washington was outperformed in the offensive zone by the Bruins forwards and there wasn't much goaltender Michal Neuvirth could do to keep the puck out of his net.
An affair that turned violent, the Capitals showed a level of compete that earned smiles from those watching at home despite the three goal deficit. Although the Bruins earned two points in regulation and the Capitals will travel home without, there should be something positive to take away from Washington's unwillingness to go down quietly in Boston.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Milan Lucic was a thorn in the side of the Capitals from the get go, the power forward earning the primary assist on both first period goals. Equally as good in the power forward role today was winger Nathan Horton, finishing off a Gordie Howe Hat Trick before the game’s second intermission (1G 2A). The hard nosed and talented player looked very good against the Capitals today, every part of the player he was before a concussion sidelined him in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- Nathan Horton’s eighth goal of the season late in the first period was the result of a nice pass from Milan Lucic behind the net. It was Capitals forward Troy Brouwer who turned the puck over below his own goal line, a backhanded pass intended for the defense that was intercepted by Lucic before Horton fired the puck behind Neuvirth. Similarly, defenseman Jack Hillen had a turnover forced from his stick below the goal line before the game’s second goal, David Krejci’s late in the first. Giving the puck away two hundred feet from the opposition’s net is not a way to win hockey games, especially those played in Boston. Their forward corps are too large and too skilled.
- Marcus Johansson would score his second goal of the year (first since February 5th) despite not putting a shot towards the net. While looking to pass to Joel Ward Johansson’s puck was slapped aside by Krejci, off of Johnny Boychuk’s skate and into the net behind Anton Khudobin. Let’s hope the play will get Johansson’s puck luck going.
- Neuvirth wasn’t sharp enough against the Bruins considering the offensive support he was given, posting a .895 SP on 38 shots. Although Neuvirth made several strong saves (one early on Daniel Paille in particular) his team’s deficit was too great eighteen minutes into the game.
- Anton Khudobin got his first career start against the Capitals on Saturday, and the three year NHL veteran got his first win against Washington. The twenty six year old led the way for Boston with a .970 SP on 33 shots, his control of the puck and clock keeping the Capitals from stringing together good scoring chances. Khudobin saw the puck well and kept his crease tidy alongside his defenseman.
- The hard hitting contest would come to a head at the end of the second period, fireworks starting in the second’s final minute. Both Brad Marchand / Mike Ribeiro and Horton / Matt Hendricks would square off in the final minute, both bouts evenly matched. Any momentum gained by Washington was quickly negated by Rich Peverley’s fourth of the year less than three minutes into the final frame. Mike Ribeiro’s decision to fight caught many off guard, the pivot having never dropped the mitts in his NHL career. Ribeiro and Marchand exchanged rights before Ribeiro’s sweater came over his head, and the Capitals bench responded enthusiastically to their leading scorer’s mettle. When the lightest guy on the roster steps up against the Bruins, positive momentum is almost always guaranteed.
- Hendricks is one of the toughest guys in the NHL. After a quick (but fierce) tussle with Horton the Washington winger was courted by Shawn Thornton and Adam McQuiad at the same time. Quickly deciding to spar with the latter another energetic fight ended with Hendricks’ right knuckles cut open. The game already out of reach, one can get a good sense of the pride that #26 wears underneath his equipment.
- The Capitals did a good job of keeping Bruins leading scorer Brad Marchand off the scoresheet and largely ineffective across the ice. While Marchand is usually easiest to identify on the ice, his second period fight aside, you would have been hard pressed to remember his impact on the outcome of this game.
- Jason Chimera led Washington with six shots on net against Khudobin. Although Chimera didn’t register any points in his eighteen minutes of ice his offensive fortitude should be praised. The puck is never going in unless someone directs it on goal, and Chimera was doing that at a better rate than any other player on the ice Saturday afternoon. While he may be stuck without a goal on the season, one has to think it’s only a matter of time.
- Steve Oleksy again skated the most minutes for Adam Oates, his twenty four minutes of ice two more than next highest Washington skater John Carlson. The Capitals' Coaching Staff is feeding Oleksy minutes and the late bloomer is eating up all the available ice time. Although skating to a -2 ranking on Saturday the defenseman's presence was noticeable all around Washington's own end and after whistles.
The Capitals can't afford to fall behind to talented teams too often, because like Boston showed, the best ones learn from their mistakes. The Bruins will make one more trip to Verizon Center on the last day of the regular season. Washington will play again tomorrow, against the Buffalo Sabres, and have a chance to get themselves into the contest with a quick goal.