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In a game worthy of many differing headlines, the visiting Boston Bruins lost 5-3 to the Washington Capitals after blowing a three-goal comeback late in the third period. Having beaten Washington 3-1 and 4-1 earlier this season, the Bruins entered the game overconfident and flat, recovered, but failed to keep up with the speedy Capitals.
In the scoreless first period, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, with his record seven wins in seven starts to open the season on the line, continuously bailed out the Bruins defense, as he often does stopping all eight shots he faced. In the offensive zone, Boston managed a paltry three shots, barely testing Caps goalie Michael Neuvirth. However, neither netminder would make it to the end of the game between the pipes.
Tyler Sloan opened the scoring less than a minute into the second period, knuckle-pucking Tomas Fleischmann’s face-off win past Thomas, for his first goal in nearly two years. Mike Green gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead when he embarrassed Gregory Campbell on a curl-and-drag before going high glove-side. Thomas bailed the Bruins out twice more, both times on odd-man rushes, but he couldn’t stop them all; a short-handed 3-on-1 opportunity was too good for Alexander Semin to pass up as he netted his eighth goal of the season. While the Bruins doubled their shot count to six, the Capitals had more than doubled theirs to 17.
Hoping to spark some passion, Bruins head coach Claude Julien pulled Thomas, who had allowed only three goals in his previous four starts combined, in favor of Tuukka Rask, who had entered the season as the starter. Julien looked like a genius as Michael Ryder and Nathan Horton each scored power play goals 55 seconds apart to open the third period. Shawn Thorton, playing in his 300th NHL game, tied the game 3-3 halfway through the third period with a nifty backhand over the sprawling Neuvirth, who was then pulled for Braden Holtby for his NHL debut.
The Capitals offense re-awoke, however, and Natick, Massachusetts-native John Carlson scored the game-winning goal at 13:25 in the third. Milan Lucic lost the face-off after David Krejci had been thrown out of the circle and Carlson put his slapshot past Rask. Alexander Overchkin added an empty-netter to bring it to the final score of 5-3.
Despite going down 3-0, Thomas, who held the Capitals to two goals in two wins earlier this season, won’t be tagged for his first loss of the season, keeping his undefeated 7-0-0 record intact. Rask, who gave up the game-winning goal, is now 0-3-0.
More important than individual statistics is what this loss means for the Bruins. The Capitals used a power line of Ovechkin, Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom, which Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg almost shutdown. The biggest problem the Bruins had all night was Washington’s forecheck. The B’s made uncharacteristic turnovers in their defensive zone, often unsure how to get past the Caps’ front two men, and were nearly as bad in the offensive zone as the Capitals often pressured the points. For any team wondering how to beat the Bruins, they need only watch tape of this game. (On the flipside, if you want to learn how to blow a 3-0 lead – the second time in as many games the Capitals have done – you need only watch tape of this game, too.)
With the loss, the Bruins fall to 7-3-0 (14 points) and remain three points behind the Northeast Division-leading Montréal Canadiens. The Bruins return home to the TD Garden for their next game, a 7pm face-off against the St. Louis Blues (7-1-2, 16 points) on Saturday.