March 29, 2012

Shootout loss to Caps puts an end to Bruins' winning streak

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Washington 3, Boston 2 (SO)

Recap: Shy of a major charging penalty on Jason Chimera that knocked Adam McQuaid out of the game, 40 mostly uneventful and completely scoreless minutes of hockey were in the books when the Bruins and Capitals embarked on the third period.

While Boston held a big advantage in shots for most of the night, both clubs seemed to be sleepwalking through the tilt until Washington struck twice in less than two minutes. Dennis Wideman opened the scoring at 7:59, wristing one past Tim Thomas, before Marcus Johansson’s 14th of the season made it 2-0 in favor of the Caps.

With 3:10 to go, David Krejci followed up a shot by Zdeno Chara and put it past Michal Neuvirth to cut the lead in half. With 1:16 left in regulation, Andy Ference’s snapper from the point found the back of the net to tie it up.

Alex Ovechkin missed a number of golden scoring chances in the extra session, so the two squads went to the shootout. Krejci was stoned on an unspectacular attempt to go five-hole before Thomas was fooled by Matt Hendricks. But Boston scored on their next two attempts, forcing Alex Semin to have to score in order to keep things going. He did.

Rich Peverley was then denied by Neuvirth and Brooks Laich followed it up with the clincher, keeping the B’s from locking up a playoff berth and giving the Capitals the extra point.

Records: Boston 45-28-4, 94 points; Washington 39-31-8, 86 points

Key Play of the Game: We’ll go with the tying tally late in the third, as it was the reason the B’s managed to get a point. Dennis Wideman passed it to his partner, Karl Alzner, whose weak attempt to clear the zone wound up on Krejci’s stick. No. 46 quickly spotted Ference along the blue line and fed him a perfect pass for the strike.

Connolly’s Commendations: Hard to peg any standouts during the first 56 minutes of what seemed like it was going to be a snoozer, but Krejci certainly deserves props for stepping up. In less than two minutes, during crunch time, he tallied a goal and an assist. Furthermore, the Czech pivot dominated at the dot, winning 11-of-13 (85%) faceoffs on the night.

Milan Lucic was playing like a man possessed in the first period but couldn’t catch any breaks. He did, however, finish the night with an assist and a team-high five hits.

With McQuaid out of action for most of the contest, Boston was forced to go with five defensemen. Zdeno Chara logged 29:30 of ice time, carrying the load. Ference certainly deserves kudos himself, not only for the goal but for finishing second behind Chara at 25:26.

Connolly’s Critiques: Peverley had a lot of hop in his return to the lineup out in Anaheim and buried an empty-netter on Tuesday against the Bolts, but No. 49 had an extremely quiet night against the Caps on Thursday. Peverley, in addition to his failed shootout attempt, had no points, shots or hits in the loss and was responsible for two giveaways on the night.

While Tyler Seguin did tally in the shootout – and I hate to make him sound like he’s a punching bag in this blog on a nightly basis – the 20-year-old winger did have three giveaways and plenty of those ill-fated, Phil Kessel-like moments in which he tried to go 1-on-3 or on 1-on-4 and couldn’t break through Washington’s defense.

Notes: In garnering just a single point, the Bruins failed to clinch a playoff spot. They need one more to do so. With the win, Washington is tied with Buffalo at 86 points for eighth in the East, but remains in ninth having played one more game. For Tim Thomas, it was his first loss in the shootout this season, as he slipped to 6-1.

Final Thoughts: This one was sure shaping up to be a doozey, but some clutch contributions in the closing minutes salvaged the evening for the Black and Gold. While their three-game winning streak did come to an end, the Bruins still managed to grab at least a point for the sixth time in seven games.

Next: The B’s will hit the road to take on the Islanders in New York on Saturday.