GOLD STAR: David Backes scored two of Boston’s three goals during the game, and continues to be a strong offensive presence around the net while providing vital secondary scoring for the Bruins. Backes scored the game’s first goal off a nifty little Riley Nash backhanded pass from the end boards, and then he scored in the third period all alone in the slot after receiving a heady little pass from Danton Heinen off the side boards. Backes now has seven goals and 12 points in 13 games during the month of December, and has been playing the best hockey of his Bruins career at a time when they need his contributions. Backes had two goals and a plus-1 rating in 15:47 of ice time, and finished with five shots on net, a couple of hits and a takeaway while playing the second night of back-to-back games. Backes has finally been the guy that the Bruins envisioned in free agency, and that’s a very good thing.
BLACK EYE: The Thursday night loss was a rough one for the Bruins bench after a pretty stupendous opening 20 minutes. Bruce Cassidy and his staff didn’t challenge Washington’s first goal where Brett Connolly was pretty clearly off-sides on the play, and then they did challenge the game-tying goal in the third period that was very clearly on-side after a cursory look at the video. Then Cassidy and Co. exacerbated that mistake by opting for Riley Nash in the shootout ahead of Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Ryan Spooner and any number of others. Nash missed the net by a wide margin as the third shooter after Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and that was it for the Bruins on a less-than-banner night for Boston’s bench.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins simply relaxed after a great opening period, and then didn’t have the energy or the legs on the second night of a back-to-back game to get it going again. Instead the Bruins bungled the coach’s challenge, saw a Torey Krug penalty where he was caught flat-footed turn into a power play goal for the Capitals, and then battled to a draw in the third period before getting into the extra session. Clearly it wasn’t a horrendous development as the Bruins still managed to battle their way to a point against a good team with their gas tank running on empty. But it was a steep drop-off for the Bruins after a very good opening 20 minutes.
HONORABLE MENTION: Lars Eller is slowly joining Bruins Killer status with his accomplishments against the Black and Gold over the years, and that was the case again on Thursday night when they kick-started the Capitals with their first goal. It was also Washington’s first goal scored in over 170 minutes after struggling offensively for the last couple of games, and got the Capitals going with two points, a plus-1 in 18:36 of ice time to go along with five shots on net and three hits. Eller’s line really got it going in the final 40 minutes for the Capitals, and was a key factor in the shootout win over the Black and Gold.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 – the number of shifts in the 3-on-3 overtime for Torey Krug after he struggled with a few turnovers and a key penalty in the final 40 minutes of regulation for the Bruins. Krug is normally a regular staple of Boston’s attack in OT sessions.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “After the first, we kind of took our foot off the pedal and allowed them to get back into the game. We got a point and that’s good, but we’re not satisfied with that.” –Noel Acciari to reporters after the shootout loss to the Caps.