|5 things we learned as Bruins get shutout by Braden Holtby once again||04.08.15 at 10:38 pm ET|
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the Senators fell behind by three goals Tuesday night, it seemed the Bruins were a win away from a playoff spot. When the Bruins fell behind by three goals a night later, Boston’s playoff chances became slightly better than a coin flip.
While Ottawa was able to erase its deficit and win on Tuesday, the Bruins’ worrisome outing against the Capitals meant that their game in hand is now gone and they enter a two-game fight for their playoff lives.
For the third time this season, the Bruins failed to beat Braden Holtby as the Washington netminder picked up his third shutout against the Bruins this season, stopping all 27 Boston shots Wednesday. The B’s played sloppily with the puck and didn’t enjoy potent stays in the offensive zone, leading to the 3-0 blanking.
He becomes the first goalie to blank the Bruins in all three games in one season, stopping all 88 shots he faced.
Not helping the Bruins was the fact that they did not have a power play on the night. The only three penalties of the game came against Boston.
With the loss, the Bruins remain at 95 points, tied with the Senators for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference through 80 games. If the Bruins win Thursday in Florida and Saturday in Tampa with at least one of the wins coming in regulation or overtime, they’ll be in.
The B’s could still also surpass the Penguins (96 points), Red Wings (97) or Islanders (98), but Wednesday presented a much easier option for the team to control its destiny. Now their playoff hopes could very well come down to the final game of the season.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
|Karl Alzner on bully tactics: Bruins would never let that happen to Tyler Seguin||03.16.13 at 4:57 pm ET|
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner says the Bruins were dirty and cheap in double teaming on a fight against Matt Hendricks in the third period of Boston’s 4-1 win over the Capitals Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Hendricks was cornered by Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton and eventually fought McQuaid at center ice.
“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen in my life, the fact that they let those guys corner a guy like that. For all they know, Henny has a broken hand and can’t fight. If we had done that to [Tyler] Seguin with [John] Erskine, you think they would’ve let that happen? Questionable, very questionable.”
Can the Capitals do anything to respond?
“Go after one of their guys, guess that the only thing you can do,” Alzner said. “But we’re probably not going to do that because we’re not that kind of team but that’s the only thing you can do.”
There’s a back story to the Hendricks’ fight.
Hendricks got into it with Nathan Horton late in the second period, when Horton took a stick the forehead, resulting in several stitches. That angered the mild-mannered but physically imposing Horton.
“I was yelling at him, like three times,” Horton said. “I yelled at him and he didn’t look at me. Then he just kind of sprinted at me and caught me with my gloves [down]. Maybe he did hear me. I just didn’t think he did because he wasn’t looking at me.”
As for the third period, when Thornton and McQuaid cornered him, “Nobody’s going to want to go with Thorty,” Horton said. “He’s pretty scary, but we’ve got a tough team. Everybody’s got each other’s back.”
Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists and Nathan Horton scored once, added two assists and had a fight for a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as the Bruins outmuscled the Capitals, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Bruins, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 19-4-3, good for 41 points in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Penguins, who beat the Rangers Saturday afternoon.
Another Saturday, another quick start by the Bruins. One week after scoring three goals in five minutes against the Flyers, the Bruins scored twice in a three-minute span late in the opening period. Lucic skated behind Michal Neuvirth and fed Horton in the low slot from behind the net. Horton fired the shot pass the Caps goalie for the game’s first score.
Three minutes, three seconds later, it was Lucic again in the role of playmaker, as he centered a pass for David Krejci, who beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead.
Khudobin had a big first period, facing just eight shots but making several key saves to protect the lead, including a pair of stops on Alex Ovechkin and a glove save on Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals cut the Boston lead in half just 84 seconds into the second on a fluke goal. Johnny Boychuk played a puck to the left of Khudobin and the puck went right to Krejci, who tried passing it across the crease but the puck went through Khudobin for a Washington goal.
Moments after a great sprawling glove save by Khudobin on Nicklas Backstrom, Andrew Ference wristed a shot past Neuvirth for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. The Bruins then established their physical presence in the game as Brad Marchand took exception with the play of Mike Ribeiro and beat him badly in a fight in the Bruins zone. That was followed less than a minute later by a bout in which Horton landed several blows to Matt Hendricks. Horton, with a goal, assist and fight completed the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Bruins iced the game on the power play, as Rich Peverley scored on a center from Lucic, just eight seconds after Jack Hillen was whistled for high sticking. Adam McQuaid handled Hendricks in another tussle at center-ice in the third period as the Bruins put away the win.
The Bruins outhit the Capitals, 35-24, on the day. The Bruins also increased their league-leading penalty kill, increasing their streak to 27 straight kills. They are 95-for-102 this season on the penalty kill.
The Bruins have little time to celebrate as they play in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, five days after allowing three goals in four minutes in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals||03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET|
Eric Fehr scored on a phenomenal rush up the slot just 37 seconds into overtime as the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t protect the 3-0 lead, made 22 saves in the loss.
The Bruins lost their second straight game for the second time this season and fell to 14-3-3 on the season.
With Tyler Seguin in the penalty box serving a two-minute hooking penalty, Brad Marchand was hooked on a short-handed breakaway from behind by Alex Ovechkin and was awarded a penalty shot. Marchand beat Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the first. It was the first short-handed penalty shot goal since Jan. 10, 2012 when Shawn Thornton scored against Winnipeg.
With the Bruins in control, they added a pair of goals 1:23 apart late in the first to make it a 3-0 game after one period. Zdeno Chara pinched down low in the offensive zone and snapped a shot past Holtby at 17:07. Then the Bruins capitalized on what appeared to be a questionable interference call on Ovechkin.
Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the top of the slot through a partial screen. The puck found its way past Holtby and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Capitals, who came in winners of six of their last nine games, showed some resolve in the second period. Ovechkin found Mike Ribeiro on the low left circle in front of Rask. Ribeiro redirected the puck into the part of the net vacated by Rask at 5:46 of the second. Six minutes later, the Capitals made it a one-goal game when Tomas Kundratek fired one past Rask.
Moments after Holtby turned aside Seguin, Fehr backhanded a pass from the mid-slot that deflected off the leg of Hamilton and found its way onto the stick of Wojtek Wolski, who beat Rask to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:05 left in regulation. The Bruins had one more great chance when Ovechkin was called for hooking with 2:27 left in regulation. But the Bruins managed just two shots on the power play and couldn’t get the go-ahead marker.
Then, in the opening moments of overtime, Niklas Backstrom took a puck in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass for Fehr, who streaked up the middle and beat Rask as he was falling to the ice for the game-winner. Fehr also finished with two assists on the night for the Capitals, who improved to 9-11-1.
The Bruins return to action Thursday night when they host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Patrice Bergeron and Bruins powerless to stop Caps when it mattered most||04.26.12 at 11:52 am ET|
It was as if the hockey gods were sending a message to the Bruins.
Jason Chimera hugged Johnny Boychuk ever so briefly, as the two went to the ice in the Bruins defensive zone. Chimera was called for a highly suspect and questionable holding penalty with 2:26 left in regulation of a 1-1 contest in Game 7.
If the Bruins could muster simply one power play goal, they almost certainly would be headed on to the second round and have escaped a first-round scare like they did in 2011.
But all the Bruins could muster was a harmless shot from the high slot from Brian Rolston as the power play dwindled to a precious few seconds. As was the case for most of the series, the Bruins could even get the puck on the sticks of the playmakers to organize a threat.
One shot on the season’s most important power play chance. Scoreless in three chances in Game 7. Two goals in 23 power play chances in the series.
Even when the hockey gods tempted, the Bruins could not control their own fate.
No one felt the pain more than Patrice Bergeron, who was playing with an arm/shoulder injury so bad he couldn’t take faceoffs in Games 6 and 7.
“It’s obvious that we had to better on the power play and we didn’t do that and at least create some momentum out of it and I don’t think we did that,” Bergeron said. “But, more than that I think it’s about especially Game 7, you have to find ways.”
The Bruins were very, very lucky last year to win the Stanley Cup with an inept power play for three rounds. This year, it would be why they are eliminated after one round.
“When you talk about [the game], that’s probably the most frustrating part of our game, was that power play that could have ended the series and the game,” added Bruins coach Claude Julien. “But, I guess, when you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than that. At the end of the series, you look at their team, and you look at ours, and they were the better team. They had more guys going than we did, and they played us tough. It was unfortunate that we’ve got to look at this one incident because it did play a big role in, but a lot of the damage had been done before that as well.”
It was Bergeron who had the series-winning shot on his stick 40 seconds into overtime, only to have Karl Alzner come over and interrupt glory, knocking Bergeron and the puck off target.
“It kind of exploded ‘ just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasn’t a lot of time and the puck wouldn’t settle,” Bergeron said.
“You look at all the overtime goals in this series, it’s always like that. It’s a tough break or a lucky bounce and the other team doesn’t get that and I think that’s what it is. It’s overtime, it’s one shot so yeah.”
Bergeron is captain material.
All you have to do is listen to him not address the seriousness of his arm injury following the toughest loss of the year to appreciate his leadership.
“I don’t want to use that [excuse],” Bergeron said. “I’ll let [media] know, I don’t want to talk about it right now if you guys don’t mind. Obviously on the checkout day so I’ll let you guys know.
“It’s there, it was a little better but not much better but like I said I don’t want to use that as an excuse right now. It’s a tough one to swallow and I really don’t want to put that on an injury. I’m not the only one that goes through that stuff.”
|Dennis Seidenberg: ‘We didn’t play our best hockey’||at 1:49 am ET|
The best player on the ice for the Bruins in the seven games against the Capitals couldn’t make up for one huge deficiency — the Bruins couldn’t defend home ice.
“I mean, no, last year it was [an advantage] for us, this year not so much,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “We just, when first stepping into this didn’t seem to have our legs on. We just didn’t get anything going, it was more like a ping-pong match going back and forth until we found our rhythm in the second period, but the home ice wasn’t really there.”
Indeed, in the 2011 the Bruins went 10-3 on home ice in winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. One year later, they barely won 1-0 in overtime in Game 1 at home and lost the next three at the Garden to see their dreams of back-to-back Cups come to a crashing halt.
“It was a long year,” Seidenberg said. “We had a few ups and downs, longer ups than downs. At the end, we came out of it strong and we seemed to find our rhythm going into the playoffs. But then again, we didn’t play our best hockey in this series. They played us well. It was tough.
“It’s definitely a weird feeling. It’s an empty feeling. You’re wondering what’s going to happen. You don’t really realize it’s over. It’s summer now. It’s going to be a long summer. A couple of bounces here or there, it could’ve gone the other way. You always have to look at it from a different perspective. The next couple of days, it’s going to sink in, probably.”
Seidenberg gave props to the seventh-seeded Capitals for hanging in as long as they did to have the chance to land the knockout punch on the champs.
“Well, they played us very well,” Seidenberg said. “They never really gave us momentum, they played very patient defensively and always used their chances to their advantage, I guess, in overtime. They just played a great series and their goalie played well and now it’s just a really weird, empty feeling, I guess.
“I mean, we totally took them serious. We knew how explosive they are offensively and how solid they are defensively. They were set to play a solid game, they seem to take our speed away pretty well all throughout the ice, and that’s what made it hard for us to penetrate on the outside or even to the middle with speed into their offensive zone.”
|Tim Thomas: ‘Our guys … are still champions’||at 1:28 am ET|
Just minutes after letting in the series-deciding goal three minutes into overtime, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said he couldn’t believe the team’s chances at a repeat had ended so suddenly.
“I’d have to say I’m probably in shock,” Thomas said after Joel Ward tapped in Mike Knuble‘s rebound at 2:57 of overtime. “I really believed that we were going to win tonight. I thought that, I really had a deep feeling that this wasn’t the end of the road for us tonight, that this wasn’t going to be the last game of the season. And so that’s my first reaction.”
The Capitals broke out on a 2-on-1 on the game-winning rush when Benoit Pouliot couldn’t dump in the puck deep on an attempted Bruins’ line change.
“Well obviously you see Knuble coming down with the puck and coming to the net hard,” Thomas said. “He had himself in a position, he’s a big strong guy where it looked like to me where he could cut across the net or he could go both ways. So I had to play him straight up, and he got, when he got in closer to me it got stuck on his backhand there, so I was just trying to play him honest and wait for him to take the shot. I didn’t want to go down until after he took the, released the puck because I didn’t want him to be able to go up and over my pad.
“And then he threw, they he put it at the net backhand and his momentum continued into me. I’m not, I’m not calling sour grapes, but it’s reality and it pushed me out of the way just enough to open up the net for Ward to put it in. I didn’t even see [Joel] Ward put it in. I knew the rebound was going that way but I had guys, well my head was probably in about his stomach, right. I don’t have a picture of it in my head even because I couldn’t, so, it’s, you just hear the crowd and you see them going crazy so you know something happened.”
For the first time in Stanley Cup playoff history, all seven games were decided by one goal.
“I think both teams battled very hard,” Thomas said. “They stuck to their game plan. They made it very difficult for us to generate any offense or any momentum with the style that they played. What it says about our guys is that they’re battlers and they’re, well they’re still champions. And they gave everything they had to the bitter end. Unfortunately this is sports and they fell short this time.
“Well, it’s obviously a very difficult thing. That’s why nobody’s done it in a long time. But having said that, I thought we had a better chance than most. I thought that if we could get past this first round hurdle that we would pick up some energy and momentum. I mean, I had the picture in my head of holding the Cup again this year. And I thought, I believed in that this team still had what it took to get it done, even with that short summer and everything else.”