The Bruins hadn’t faced the Capitals this season, so maybe they were rusty on the rules for playing against Washington: Don’t put the Capitals on the power play. And certainly don’t leave Alexander Ovechkin alone if you do so.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, the otherworldly Ovechkin beat them twice on the power play, once with 1:21 left in the first period, once at 2:24 of the second period, as Washington went on to win, 4-2, Saturday at TD Garden.
The first score came when the Bruins left Ovechkin essentially undefended in the left circle, and he made them pay with a one-timer past Tuukka Rask. The second came on another shot from the left circle, this time off the rush, giving Ovechkin the 800th point of his NHL career.
“If he gets those one-timers with a half-empty net, you’re pretty much going to score,” Rask said. “You have to recognize that he’s out there and I don’t think we did a very good job today with that. If you keep giving him those one-timers he’s going to find the back of the net.”
The power plays came as a result of penalties to Chris Kelly, for interference, and Matt Bartkowski, for tripping. The Kelly penalty was drawn by Jason Chimera, with whom Kelly had engaged in some shoving. Then, with Kelly coming off the ice on a change, he pushed Chimera back against the boards by the Bruins’ bench, and was nabbed for the infraction.
“It was more us not doing what we said we were going to do,” defenseman Zdeno Chara said, when asked if the power-play goals were more on the Bruins or the Capitals. “So that’s going to have to be addressed and for sure those kind of mistakes we have to eliminate and be more focused and be sharper.”
With the two power-play goals allowed, the Bruins fell to 12th in the NHL on the penalty kill, at 82.4 percent.
“I thought our guys got caught running around and that opened up the seams that we didn’t want to open up,” coach Claude Julien said. “Those are our own mistakes. At the same time I didn’t think we were disciplined enough to play against a team that has that kind of a power play. We took way too many penalties [six], and that didn’t help, either.”
The Bruins got their best effort from the Merlot line, a group that got almost all of the team’s early offensive chances. They cashed in at 17:32 of the second period, closing the deficit to within one goal on a Shawn Thornton score.
Thornton was able to steady a bouncing puck, then passed it in front of the goal where it at first seemed to bounce off an onrushing Gregory Campbell and past Braden Holtby. The goal, though, later was changed, given to Thornton after it bounced off a Washington defender.
“We had talked before the game,” Thornton said. “We weren’t happy with where we were last game. I think we looked at some video, we chatted about what we could do to make ourselves a little bit more effective. We tried to work on those [today], and for most of our shifts I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Added Julien, “They were good. I thought they played their better game. They seemed to be more in synch and play with lots of energy.”
Milan Lucic was paying attention Friday night, when Buffalo traded Ryan Miller and Steve Ott in the biggest move of the trade deadline season so far. Asked if he spends some time playing GM around the deadline, the hockey buff said, “You see what’s out there — obviously rumors are rumors, you try not to pay too much attention to them — [but] obviously when there’s rumors swirling around your team about what the additions could be and stuff like that it’s hard to ignore. I don’t think I play GM, but at the end of the day you see it just like everybody else.” . . . Rask allowed four goals to the Capitals, a team that has not been very good to him in his career. He entered the game with a 3.42 career goals-against average and an .883 save percentage against them . . . The Bruins face the Rangers Sunday at Madison Square Garden, as they continue a run of three games in four days with the Panthers in town Tuesday. There’s one number that bodes well for them. When the Bruins have faced three games in four days they have an 8-0-0 record in the second game.