WASHINGTON -- Bruce Boudreau got creative trying to find his star some open ice. On this night, it didn't matter what strategy the Washington Capitals coach came up with.
The Boston Bruins became the first NHL team to hold Alex Ovechkin without a point this season in a 3-1 victory Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
"He wasn't [getting his shots through]," Boudreau said. "Sometimes you have tougher nights than others. I thought his effort was there. I just didn't think things were going well for that whole line."
Ovechkin put four shots on net in the final period, but only one of his nine attempts in the first two periods reached Boston netminder Tim Thomas. He nearly connected with Mike Knuble on a one-timer and what might have been an easy goal in the opening seconds of the game, but the puck hopped over Knuble's stick and away from danger.
Finding it tough to generate offense against Zdeno Chara and the Bruins is nothing new for Ovechkin – at least by his incredibly high standards. Ovechkin's goal-scoring record against the Bruins (now 11 goals in 21 games) is his second-lowest among Eastern Conference opponents (9 in 19 contests against New Jersey).
"It's just trying to take away time and space," said Johnny Boychuk, Chara's defense partner. "We know he's got a great shot and he likes to get it off, so we just tried to limit his shots. I know we're not going to shut him out of shots, but we can try to limit his scoring chances. It gives us confidence that we can do it. On any given night they can score eight goals, so to shut them down to one is a good accomplishment for our team."
Chara was on the ice for more than 61 percent of the time Ovechkin was at even strength, but he wasn't alone in playing well against the two-time League MVP. Boston coach Claude Julien wasn't shy about letting his top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton go head-to-head against Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble -- and the Bruins' big guns were the ones who found the back of the net.
Krejci converted a perfect 2-on-1 pass from Horton for Boston's first goal. Lucic made a pretty backhand pass to set the pair free, and Backstrom was unable to get back in time to break up Horton's feed.
Ovechkin was caught out of position on Boston's second goal. Boychuk was able to skate the puck in from the right point without Ovechkin there to defend him, and Lucic tapped home the rebound of Boychuk's shot.
"I think we let in two goals when they score against our line. It was our mistakes and my mistake when I miss a [defenseman] in our zone," Ovechkin said. "I think the second period and the third period we played well but we just didn't score."
Late in the game with his team down two goals, Boudreau started to shuffle his players around in an attempt to generate offense. He moved Alexander Semin, who led the Capitals with 10 shots on goal, to the top line in place of Knuble for a shift.
Then Boudreau moved Ovechkin to defense (with the game still even strength) for the final five minutes. Toss in a double shift of more than two minutes at forward before the switch, and Ovechkin played 6:12 of the final 7:43 of the game for Washington.
"I thought Krejci's line outplayed them and bottled them in," Boudreau said. "I was trying to maneuver [the Ovechkin line] away from them and eventually I switched the lines up.
"We've [put Ovechkin on the blue line] before when we were behind. Not that often, but I thought if he was being checked that close that maybe this would give him some room for some shots."