The Boston Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back in a 4-2 win, handing the Capitals their fourth loss in six games. The loss pulls the Caps down to second place in the East Division behind the New York Islanders. New York's game had not concluded at the time of writing, but that game was in overtime guaranteeing the Islanders at least a point and the division lead. The Caps also sit just two points ahead of the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here is how Thursday's loss happened.
No early aggressiveness
The game plan should have been simple for this one. Boston was without both of its top two goalies in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, plus its top defenseman Charlie McAvoy and defenseman Brandon Carlo. Goalie Jeremy Swayman was getting just his second NHL start behind a makeshift defense. The Caps should have come out firing in this game and turning up the pressure early. Instead, Boston scored in the first minute of the game and outshot Washington 17-9 in the first period.
The first 20 minutes were a missed opportunity by Washington to take control of the game and, as a result, they headed into the second period down 2-0.
That's how long it took for Boston to get on the board. Jeremy Lauzon fired from the blue line and the short somehow managed to squeak through all the traffic and Ilya Samsonov to trickle just over the goal line.
The talk surrounding the Caps heading into Thursday's game was their defensive struggles of late. This was not the way head coach Peter Laviolette and Co. wanted to start this one.
An unfortunate bounce
Anton Blindh was gifted a goal in the first period thanks to a strange bounce off the glass. Feeling pressure from the Bruins, Justin Schultz tried to curl the puck around the boards behind the net. Anticipating the puck moving from the left to his right, Samsonov moved to the right post. The puck, however, had other ideas and instead hit off the glass and bounced directly to the left side of the net for Blindh to tap in past and unsuspecting Samsonov.
Marchand's highlight-reel goal
The Bruins had all the momentum early in the second period and Brad Marchand cashed in. The Boston winger broke the puck out on his own with Patrice Bergeron joining the rush. Marchand went along the boards seemingly looking to pass to Marchand, but then pulled off a nice curl-and-drag to get around a sprawling Schultz, drifted to center, then went to the backhand to finish off the play with a goal.
It may be Marchand, but you have to give him props for that one. It was a beauty.
Beyond just being a beautiful play, it also became the game-winning goal. Despite being down 3-0, Washington would mount a comeback with two goals in the second. Marchand's shorthanded goal proved to be the difference.
A late penalty
Trailing by one late in the third, Daniel Carr was called for hooking with less than five minutes remaining. That's a penalty you can't take. At best, you lose two minutes for your comeback bid. At worst, you allow Boston to add to its lead. The latter proved to be the case as Craig Smith added an insurance power-play tally.