WASHINGTON, DC – Through 20 games the Boston Bruins are still looking for a complete, 60-minute effort.
It all started well for the Black and Gold as they gathered a 3-0 lead after the first period thanks to goals by Brad Marchand (on a shorthanded penalty shot), Zdeno Chara (at 17:07) and Dougie Hamilton (18:30).
But then the Bruins fell flat and a desperate Washington Capitals squad took advantage for the last 40-plus minutes. When it was all said and done Eric Fehr split between Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton for the game-winner – his fifth of the season – just 37 seconds into overtime and the Caps completed the 4-3 comeback victory.
“I kind of blacked out a bit there but saw the puck close to my stick close to the net,” Fehr said about his game winner. “I saw he was leaning my way and tried to chip it over.
“We didn’t give up today. We know how important it is to string some wins together,” added Fehr, whose team improves to 9-11-1. “To come back against a team like that means a lot, and hopefully we can keep going.”
Several Bruins admitted that the game shouldn’t have gotten to this point during the postgame media scrums. Boston was getting timely scoring, solid defense and even a productive power play.
But for whatever reason, the game got away from the Black and Gold. And it leaves them scratching their heads as they exit the Verizon Center.
“It was a very tough loss. It shouldn’t have even gone into overtime,” Marchand admitted afterwards. “It’s on us and we know we need to do better.”
Coming out flat in the middle stanza didn’t help the cause. The Caps were firing more shots towards Tuukka Rask and before long the Bruins were caught skating on their heels.
Eventually Mike Ribeiro (his eighth) and Tomas Kundratek (his first career NHL goal) pulled the Caps within one with tallies at 5:46 and 11:32 of the second period, respectively.
“I think we got a little too comfortable,” Hamilton said. “We took a lot of penalties and it’s pretty tough to get your momentum back when you let them come back at you.”
While they did kill two penalties during crucial situations late in the second period and early in the third, the Bruins still let this one get away.
And when Wojtek Wolski scored the equalizer at 13:55 of the third, Boston, despite having a 15-8 shots on goal advantage in the final 20, had its wind knocked right out of its sails.
“We lost the game, no excuse,” said Chara. “It was not a good enough, 60-minute effort. When you look at the first 20 and the second 20, totally two different approaches. There was not enough urgency in the second period. We let them back in the game.”
“We had a lot of outnumbered situations in the third where we could have sealed the deal, but our inability to score just kept them in the game and eventually they got the goal they wanted,” head coach Claude Julien added.
Although they hadn’t blown a three-goal lead since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tuesday’s result brought back painful memories of blowing that same lead in The Hub of Hockey.
Regardless, the Bruins will need to move on quickly as they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs for a pivotal Northeast Division showdown at the TD Garden.
“With the schedule we have, obviously, we can’t spend too long on this game,” said Chara. “But at the same time, we need to avoid the mistakes we were making out there.”