The Washington Capitals put on a sleepy performance Thursday night when they visited TD Garden for the second time this week. The Boston Bruins, who sit atop the Atlantic division and second place in the Eastern conference, earned two points from the Caps, who were playing their second game in as many nights.
Washington picked up two points from Boston just last weekend in a 4-2 win and the Bruins had a decisive reply for them.
Coach Adam Oates commented on the quick turn-around postgame.
“It was obviously a tough game, back to back,” he said. “They were waiting, second time in five days here and we beat them last time.”
Boston goalie Tukka Rask shut out the visiting Caps, while the home team notched three goals in front of the Boston-faithful. The goal differential was not to be blamed on Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who stood on his head for Washington, saving all but three of Boston’s 43 shots.
Oates praised his goaltender postgame.
“We lost the game but he played a great game,” he said. “He did his job. Good for him.”
After a scoreless first, the Bruins scored twice in the second period. The first came off of a Patrice Bergeron slap shot that was deflected by Gregory Campbell blocker side through the traffic in front of Holtby.
Just over five minutes later, the Bruins moved the puck D-to-D and put the puck on net, where the rebound found a unmarked Loui Eriksson, who stretched the home team’s lead to two with a snap shot from the slot.
Oates cited “a little bit of the down-low coverage” as the culprit for the goal, stating that they would “work on it” when questioned postgame.
All of a sudden, the Caps were at a multi-goal disadvantage less than halfway through the second frame.
The third period brought some scoring chances for the previously depleted Caps, who almost got on the board when an opportunity on a quick passing play from Marcus Johansson to Alex Ovechkin tricked just wide of the left post of the empty net for the Washington captain.
Oates commented on the scoring postgame.
“It was nothing-nothing after the first. Holts gives us a chance…we started the third period and if you score one, Ovi scores that one, it’s a ball game,” he said. “You’re still in the game. We were a little tired. We just needed that one spark and we did not get it.”
Despite the slightly livened final period, the Caps failed to generate any consistent offensive pressure or establish quality zonetime, putting just 16 shots on net the whole game.
“We did not get enough pucks to the net,” said Washington forward Troy Brouwer postgame. “We did not sustain enough in the offensive zone…They play very tight, real good defensively. They don’t give you a whole lot of opportunity.”
When Oates pulled Hotlby with less than two minutes left, Brad Marchand hit the empty net, finalizing the shutout in a demoralizing fashion.
The gravity of the game was not lost on forward Nicklas Backstrom.
“It’s a tough race to a playoff spot. You got to make sure you play your best hockey and we haven’t done that so far,” he said. “We have to make sure we play better and take care of business.”
The Caps have now earned just one point in the last three games after going on on a four game winning streak with a record of 7-2-1.
Regardless of the uninspiring performance, Oates has already moved on to the next task at hand.
“We’ll rest tomorrow, re-energize for Saturday, and win a game Saturday.”