The Caps faced off against the number one team in the Eastern Conference tonight, the Boston Bruins. Their last two match-ups, both at Verizon Center, ended in favor of the Caps. Tonight’s game was played at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.
Just seven seconds into the game, Washington went on the power play, courtesy of a high-sticking call against Marc Savard. The Bruins were successful in the penalty kill, but just as Savard stepped out of the box, Mike Green scored on a pass from Alexander Ovechkin to Alexander Semin to Green. The Bruins answered a few minutes later when a pass from Ovi was intercepted by Boston, leading to a goal by Shawn Thornton. Play continued with the score tied 1-1 through the first period. As the clock wound down, Tomas Fleischmann skated in toward goal and took a shot. He captured his own rebound and passed the puck to Michael Nylander, who tapped it in with just 20.7 seconds left in the first. The Caps were up 2-1.
As expected, the game turned into a display of defensive maneuvers. Jose Theodore and Tim Thomas were each called upon to make a number of impressive saves in the second period. With 5:48 left in the second, the Bruins were on a power play courtesy of a hooking call against Nylander when Savard scored his 17th goal of the season off a pass from Patrice Bergeron, who was back after missing 15 games following a concussion suffered in a game against Carolina on December 20. The game was tied 2-2.
Caps fans saw their worst fear materialize a few seconds later when Zdeno Chara hooked Alex Ovechkin as he skated full-speed into the offensive zone, causing Ovi to lose his balance and slam into the boards. His head and right shoulder seemed to bear the brunt of the impact. Ovi lay on the ice for several minutes afterward – an extremely unusual event for the NHL’s reigning MVP. Ovi headed off to the locker room and missed the remainder of the period to get checked out by the team’s trainer.
The good news for Caps fans was that Ovi was back for the third period, appearing none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, just a few seconds into the third Alexander Semin was hit in the throat by an out-of-control stick belonging to Chuck Kobasew. The Caps were unable to score on the ensuing power play, but Semin was able to return to the ice with no apparent injury.
Play continued through the third, with each team taking its share of shots but no goals scored. On to overtime! Bad news for the Caps, since they were hoping to gain two points on their Eastern Conference rival but now could only hope for one, at best. Didn’t turn out that way, though, as Niklas Backstrom’s shot in OT was denied by Tim Thomas. Heading back into the defensive zone, Backstrom was called for hooking and sent to the box. Boston scored on the power play, with a goal from David Krejci. Final score: 3-2, Bruins.
Boston now has 75 points on the season to Washington’s 64. The Caps’ next game will be at home against another powerhouse in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, on January 31.