BOSTON - One streak dies and another one lives on.
The Bruins had their five-game winning streak snapped on Thursday night with a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, thus extending their losing skid against the Caps to 14 games.
Boston outplayed the defending Stanley Cup champions for large portions of the game, outshooting them 41-22, but some quick-response strikes from the Capitals left the Bruins chasing.
"I thought we certainly gave ourselves a chance to win the game, didn't happen again against this team," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Have to get over that hurdle - a lot of nights that would be good enough for points, if not two points, but not tonight."
Washington struck first when Jakub Vrana scored off a breakaway just 6:38 into the contest, leaving the Bruins facing yet another uphill battle against a team they haven't beaten since March 2014.
"We kind of controlled the play the whole way through and really the only looks they had were their goals and a couple late when we were forcing," said Brad Marchand. "We were the better team tonight, but they're a really good team over there. They find ways to win and that's why they did so well last year - and they're a good team again this year. But we had a good effort."
Video: BOS Recap: Donato, Krejci score in loss to Capitals
The Bruins finally got on the board when Ryan Donato (game-high seven shots) sniped one by Braden Holtby (39 saves) with 5:49 remaining in the second period. But the tie was short lived, with Washington responding just 39 seconds later on Alex Ovechkin's 31st of the season.
"It's frustrating," said Marchand. "When you get back in the game like that you want to try to stay with that momentum and it seemed like every time we got a goal there they scored right after. So it's tough to win when you do that, but we had a good game.
"We could have easily won that game. Their goalie had a lot of good saves, but that's how it goes sometimes."
Boston knotted the game once again when David Krejci struck with a power-play tally 4:37 into the third. Yet again, however, the Capitals quickly shot back, regaining the lead only 1:09 later on a goal from Niklas Backstrom off the rush that beat Jaroslav Halak (18 shots) under his glove.
"I think we played a pretty good game," said Halak. "We controlled most of the game…they have some players that can score goals and unfortunately I didn't make a save on the third goal. That's the bottom line. I got outplayed by their goalie. They got a win, so we just need to be better."
Video: Cassidy, Donato, Wagner, Marchand and Halak talk loss
One of the Bruins' lone bright spots was the play of Donato, who landed a game-high seven shots on net and potted his sixth of the season to tie the game, 1-1, at the 14:11 mark of the second period. Donato ripped a wrister by Holtby to even things up after a strong forecheck from him and fellow third-liners Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (assist) and Danton Heinen caused some havoc in the Washington end of the ice.
"I thought it was one of his better games, on the puck, attacked well," said Cassidy. "Obviously, finished a nice play. What I liked about that play that he scored on was that he actually covered up for the defenseman. He was in the right position when the puck found him, so as a coach those are the strides you hope players make over time…it's just rounding it out, so tonight he was arguably our most effective forward."
Cassidy complimented the all-around play of the "university line", which has performed admirably since being reunited last week.
"One of our best lines," he said. "Didn't get nervous with them out there. I think there was a shift in the third they got a little bit, maybe, soft on a slot-battle puck. JFK looked like he had it, Ryan started leaving early, but other than that…they held their own and outplayed whoever they were against for most of the night."
Video: WSH@BOS: Donato beats Holtby with wrister
Keeping Them On
In the final moments of Boston's 7-0, Opening Night loss in Washington, Marchand dropped the gloves in a one-sided bout with Capitals forward Lars Eller, who celebrated in front of the Bruins' bench after the seventh and final goal just moments before.
Eller attempted to get some retribution on Thursday night, as he tried to bait Marchand in the second period, but Marchand didn't bite and Eller was issued a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I haven't looked at the stat sheet, but I don't really feel the need to check proof anything," said Marchand. "He plays maybe 10, 12 minutes a night and I'm playing 20. So in a 1-0 game - to go on the power play - it doesn't make a lot of sense so that's the way it is."