The Washington Capitals four-game winning streak came to a halt Tuesday night at the Verizon center, and so did Michal Neuvirth’s playing streak as the Caps fell to the Boston Bruins 3-1.
Neuvirth aimed to be the Caps first goaltender to start and go the distance in six straight games. However, he did not achieve that after giving up two goals in the first 12 minutes. The two goals came in less than three minutes of each other.
The Caps started the first 10 minutes strong, but made a few mistakes that lead to early goals for the Bruins.
The first came on a 2-on-1 breakaway that slipped into the back of the net on a solid shot. The second was the result of an empty net when the Caps left Milan Lucic open in front of the goal and he capitalized on it scraping the puck into the net.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Neuvirth then complained of dizziness and a headache and was then taken off on the next whistle. Boudreau said they had no indication of his condition before the game.
Neuvirth was then replaced by Semyon Varlamov 13 minutes into the contest.
“As a competitor [Neuvirth] thinks he’s going to be able to fight his way through it, but with the stress it probably got worse.” Boudreau said. “I still think there wouldn’t have been anything he would have been able to do on the goals.”
The Caps played well in the second period. They held the Bruins scoreless in the period, including killing three power plays and 53 seconds of 5-on-3.
It wasn’t until 7:42 into the second that they found the net. Marcus Johansson scored on a wristshot for the Caps first and only goal on the night, and Johansson’s first of his NHL career.
“It was a good feeling,” Johansson said. “I got some of the pressure off of my own shoulders and now I can keep going.”
Washington had three power play opportunities in the second including 25 seconds of a two man advantage, but failed to capitalize.
Varlamov gave up his first goal on the year two minutes into the third period when Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick found the goal on a wrister in front of the net. The Caps then fell 3-1 and were unable to recover.
“He did a great job.” Boudreau said of Varlamov’s play. “The goal that went in he couldn’t see.”
Washington played a physical game acquiring 33 hits, the most so far this season. They also held the Bruins to the lowest number of shots this season. In the third period alone the Caps outshot Boston 18-5. Overall the Caps just struggled to convert on scoring opportunities.
“It wasn’t a game where they were just circling and looking for things to happen,” Boudreau said. “I felt they gave it an honest effort tonight.”
The Caps were without defenseman Mike Green for the second game in a row tonight and it showed. The Caps struggled to clear the puck on more than one occasion and gave-up more goals than they have since their first game of the season, which also resulted in a loss.
Washington will face the Bruins again on Thursday this time in Boston. It will be the Bruins home-opener after playing their first four games away from the TD Garden, including two games in Prague to open the 2010-11 season. Boudreau said the team will have to score early because Boston is very good once they get a lead.
As far as the goaltending situation Boudreau said he wouldn’t know who would be starting until Wednesday’s practice.