WASHINGTON - The Bruins are most effective when they’re emotionally engaged and playing with bite. In Game 3 against Washington, they submitted their edgiest performance yet.
After a third-period save by Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, Milan Lucic took on a phalanx of Washington penalty killers who believed he treaded too close to their puck-stopper. Karl Alzner mocked Lucic for crying. After the final whistle, a scrum broke out when Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom drove his stick into Rich Peverley’s face.
Given how docile the first two games were, Claude Julien didn’t mind how the heat went up Monday.
“The emotional level of that series wasn’t where I wanted it to be with our hockey club,’’ the Bruins coach said. “We had to elevate that and get a little more involved. When we’re more emotional and more involved, we win battles. We create more things.’’
It is challenging for the Bruins to jack up their ire for the Capitals. There has been no regular-season rivalry recently. There are no villains on the roster. Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, and Brooks Laich are quick to play the body, but they do so in an honest way.
In Game 3, the Bruins generated more hate, which they hope to carry into Thursday’s Game 4.
As he has been for much of his time in Boston, Lucic was at the center of the hostilities in Game 3.
“It’s good to see,’’ Dennis Seidenberg said. “He’s a huge part of our team. He gives us that physical presence. When he plays that way, he creates room for his guys and his line.’’
The key will be for the Bruins to showcase their snarl while managing their tempers. Lucic wiped out a third-period power play by taking a roughing double minor. In the second period, Lucic and Laich were sent to the box for matching roughing penalties after they whacked at each other prior to a faceoff.
Backstrom banned 1 game
Backstrom had a disciplinary hearing Tuesday afternoon regarding his match penalty for high-sticking Peverley at the conclusion of Game 3. The match penalty for attempt to injure carries an automatic suspension, and Tuesday night the NHL announced Backstrom received a one-game suspension and will miss Thursday’s Game 4.
That Backstrom is not a fighter is what irked Andrew Ference most about the play.
“If you’re going to do those types of things, drop the gloves,’’ said the Bruins defenseman. “Man up. We know with certain players, that’s not going to happen. That’s what frustrates players.’’
It was Backstrom’s third stick infraction of the game. He also cross-checked Lucic at the end of the first period and got his stick in Brad Marchand’s back in the third.
“We’re not a team that will start rolling on the ice for no reason,’’ Julien said. “I’m proud of Pev for standing up on his feet, taking a cross-check to the face, and not embellishing. That’s what I want my team to do.
“We all have jobs to do. You let the people who are responsible for that to make those kinds of decisions.’’
Through three games, Tyler Seguin (0-0-0) has yet to get his game untracked. Seguin leads the Bruins with 10 shots on goal, but none has beaten Holtby.
Seguin skated only two shifts in the third period of Game 3. He didn’t have much chemistry with David Krejci, getting off only two shots in 13:42 of ice time.
“To put too much pressure on a young player like that, I don’t think is the right approach. For me, anyways,’’ Julien said. “You’ve got to guide him along.
“You know he’s going to find his game. He’s not playing badly. There’s a lot of expectations on these young players that is maybe not always fair.
“That’s why you’ve got guys like [Brian] Rolston and [Chris] Kelly and those kinds of guys producing for us. They’re veterans. They’ve been through these situations before, a lot more than Tyler.
“Last year, Tyler was in and out of the lineup in the playoffs. For us to expect he’s just going to just take over because he led our team in scoring, to me that’s not reality.
“He’s going to find his way because he’s a smart player. He’s a good player. We’re going to allow him time to do that without putting undue pressure on him.’’
Day of rest
The Bruins did not practice Tuesday. They are scheduled to skate Wednesday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Washington’s practice facility in Arlington, Va. . . . Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin strain) is getting closer to returning as Tim Thomas’s backup, said Julien. The Bruins are proceeding with caution, however, because of the risk of Rask reinjuring his groin. “Because he’s a goaltender and the injury that he has, you can’t rush him back,’’ Julien said. “That’s all we need - for Tim to go down, he goes in, then he goes down after the first or second shot. We’re just making sure that when he’s back, he’s going to be 100 percent. Not 99, but 100 percent.’’Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.