In their first game back at the TD Garden after the Olympic break, the Boston Bruins were hoping to bounce back from a tough 5-4 loss in Buffalo Wednesday night. That was not the case, however, as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals lit it up in their 4-2 win over the B’s Saturday afternoon.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game:
Capitals did what they do best: score on the power-play
One of the priorities for today’s game was to contain the Capitals power-play. The Caps came into the game second in the National Hockey League scoring on the man advantage at a 22.4 percent clip. They had 49 goals on 219 opportunities and they added to that total today.
It did not go as planned for the B’s as the Capitals capitalized on two of their power-play chances. The B’s penalty kill has been better as of late, but it had to be top notch today as it faced a power house on the man advantage.
Ovechkin notched two power-play goals in their victory and expanded his goal total to 43 on the season.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara explained that it wasn’t what the Caps did, but what the B’s did not do on the penalty kill that resulted in the two goals by Ovechkin.
“I think that it was more us not doing what we said we were going to do,” Chara said after the second straight loss for the B’s. “So, again that’s going to have to be addressed and for sure those kinds of mistakes we have to eliminate and be more focused and be sharper.”
Tuukka Rask was also was frustrated that his team did not recognize Ovechkin was on the ice and open at times during the power-play which gave the Caps an even bigger advantage.
“Well, I mean, if he gets those one timers with a half empty net, you’re pretty much going to score, ” Rask said. “You have to recognize that he’s out there and I don’t think we did a very good job of that today with that. He had that shot in the first period before he scored and then gets that goal and the next one I was almost positive he was going short sided, but he kind of knuckled and he stalled and it went in, but if you keep giving him those one timers he’s going to find the back of the net.”
Slow start haunts Bruins again:
If there was another key to the B’s game plan today it was getting off to a better start than they did versus the Buffalo Sabres. Again, that was not the case. The B’s fell behind 3-0 and made a valiant effort to come back, but just couldn’t catch up.
Chris Kelly took a penalty towards the end of the first period where the Capitals gained momentum and the lead heading into the middle frame.
Minutes into the second period, it was much of the same for the Black and Gold. Matt Bartkowski took a penalty leading to another goal for Ovechkin and the Caps. It was not ideal for the Black and Gold to fall behind again, but that is what unfolded at TD Garden today.
There was not much generated from their top two lines to start the game as the B’s defensemen had five of the teams first seven shots of the game.
Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal halfway through the second period shifted the momentum a little, but it still wasn’t enough. Shawn Thornton then cut the deficit to just one, but Eric Fehr put the dagger in Bruins’ fans hearts as he scored on a breakaway to give the Caps another two-goal lead.
“I guess you could look at it either way,” Thornton said about the slow start. “I don’t like excuses so we’ve got to be better defensively. I think that yeah maybe there was a little bit of rust early, but we don’t really have time for that. Everyone is in the same boat, that’s the thing. Everyone had the same break. Everyone had guys go to Sochi. Everybody had guys go on vacation. So we’ve got tolook inside here and we’ve got to do better.
“We talked about it (getting off to a good start),” Thornton added. “We weren’t good enough off the hop so we’ll think about this one and then focus on the Rangers tomorrow.”
Holtby continues dominance vs. Bruins
Braden Holtby always gives the B’s fits and today was no different as he had 36 saves on the afternoon to improve to 4-0-0 lifetime against the Black and Gold.
Holtby came into today’s contest with a 18-13-2 record and a 2.91 goals against average. At times he looked out of positions, but when the Caps needed that big save, Holtby was there. He is now 6-1-0 in his last seven starts.
“We had some good bounces, Holts made some saves and great sticks and I thought our sticks were really excellent tonight,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said about Holtby’s performance. “If you have a good stick on a 5-on-3 that usually helps you pretty good. That’s good for us to give the penalty kill a little confidence.”
To no surprise, Holtby was all smiles afterwards.
“We obviously knew what they were capable of, they are a very strong team,” said the Caps netminder. “Throughout the year we have played a lot better against good teams so that’s a good sign and tonight we did that too.”
The Bruins are 0-1-1 in their last two coming off the Olympic break. They’ll look to snap that skid and get their first win in nearly a month (on the calendar year) tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.