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Five-Game Win Streak Snapped as Shutout Woes Continue Against Caps

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bruins went into the Verizon Center 7-0-1 in their past eight games. They had struck first on the scoreboard in 11 straight games. They had not trailed by two goals in a game since Feb. 20 in St. Louis.

By the time the buzzer sounded, the sirens went off, and the fans clad in the red, white and blue of the nation's capital received a stick salute from their home team, those Bruins' trends were snapped in a 2-0 loss to the Capitals.

Goaltender Braden Holbty extended his shutout streak to 126:43 against the Bruins. With a 4-0 loss to the Caps on Oct. 11 in the teams' first meeting, the Bruins have now been outscored 6-0 this season.

"Well, [he's been good] against us, at least," Head Coach Claude Julien said of Holtby. "We haven't scored a goal on these guys yet in two games, so it's been a little challenging for us."

"He played a pretty good game," said Brad Marchand. "I don't think we had enough traffic in front of him, and a goalie that is that good, you have to get bodies in front and take away his eyes, and we didn't do a good enough job of that."

The Caps had lost two straight and three of their last four games heading into the matchup with the Bruins, and were just a day removed from an off day turned into a 'wakeup call' practice and regrouping on Saturday. They needed to come out firing in front of their home crowd.

They outshot the Bruins 7-1 in the first two minutes of the game, and Tuukka Rask was forced to control the play early. They extended that advantage to 10-1 before the Bruins could generate their first shift of sustained pressure.

"I think the first five minutes obviously, they had about 10 shots," said Julien. "With what they went through [on Saturday], I think the message was clear to them that they had to come out harder…and we weathered the storm - probably not as good as we wanted to."

"We knew they were going to come out hard and they came out extremely hard and Tuukka made some big saves for us to get our feet under us," said Chris Kelly. "And I thought as the game went on, we got better and better, and a bounce here, a bounce there, the outcome might have been a bit different."

With 7:33 left in the first, Brad Marchand took exception to a hit by Tom Wilson on Ryan Spooner, and was whistled for a roughing penalty on Wilson, having given him shoves on the ice in Rask's crease.

"He's a physical player and he plays hard and he gave a lot of hits and took a lot of hits and that's his game," Marchand said of Wilson.

Washington used the opportunity to cash in just 16 seconds into the power play. Rask opened the penalty kill with a quick save on Alex Ovechkin, but the Caps rotated the puck out high to John Carlson, whose blast found a way through for the 1-0 lead.

"I mean, if I had to do it again, I would do the same thing," said Marchand. "You know, we want to show that we'll stick up for each other in this room and I know if that was me that got hit there, there would have been a guy stepping up, so I've got to return the favor."

Having gone 11 straight games scoring first, trailing early was somewhat of a foreign feeling, but it didn't really affect the Bruins' play. They still pushed on. But, the Caps kept pushing as well.

"Obviously when you give up the first goal, it's tougher, but I thought we just got better as the game went on," said Rask, who ended the night with 36 saves on 38 shots.

"We just couldn't score on Holtby again - another shutout for him in this game and you know, it's funny how it goes, kind of like [Carey] Price and then him, against us they seem to, if not shut us down, then let in one goal max," he continued. "So it's tough to win when you can't score on these guys, but we battled hard and we had a couple really, really almost open nets too, and just couldn't score."

The Bruins started to find their legs after weathering the Caps' initial storm, and had two power play opportunities at the end of the first and beginning of the second, but could not convert despite strong puck movement.

Boston then generated chances in the second, with a slight 14-13 edge in shots on goal, but couldn't get to the loose pucks in front.

At one point, David Pastrnak fed a streaking Ryan Spooner off the rush, with Milan Lucic driving the net, but Holtby swallowed up the bid.

Not long after, the Capitals struck to make it 2-0 with 6:23 to go in the second. A blocked shot deflected right to Nate Schmidt, whose shot from out high deflected off Gregory Campbell in front and past Rask.

"When you play with the lead, it's a lot easier, and we missed some opportunities, and the second goal kind of hurt us a lot," said Julien. "Puck's going wide and hits Campbell and deflects in, so they got a break on that. We just tried our best to get ourselves back in the game, but couldn't get that goal."

Holtby also turned away chances by Dennis Seidenberg and Carl Soderberg point-blank in the middle frame.

Rask sprawled out to save a Jason Chimera rebound chance in the dying seconds of the period to keep it a two-goal deficit heading to the third.

The game marked Rask's sixth time starting both games of a back-to-back, having earned the 2-0 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He didn't show any fatigue, and had to be sharp the entire game, though he felt the Caps had only about 10 scoring chances.

"Not overly much I don't think, but the shots kept coming constantly and sometimes they were better chances, and sometimes they weren't, but it was one of those games you kind of felt like you were in it the whole game," he said.

The Caps came at the Bruins with speed and a strong transition game, and forechecked hard. At the other end, the Bruins had trouble getting pucks deep and sustaining momentum, with Washington's defense keeping a close gap.

Another power play chance came early in the third, and the Black and Gold again had chances, but couldn't find the back of the net. One of the best bids came with the puck sitting in the blue paint, bouncing just past Loui Eriksson's stick. The Bruins ended up 0-for-4 on the man advantage, with Washington scoring on its lone opportunity.

Torey Krug led the Bruins with five shots on goal, with another seven attempts blocked for a team-high 12 shot attempts. Most of them came during power play action.

Boston spent the final two minutes with an extra attacker, but still couldn't find a way past Holtby.

"They've obviously had the better of us this season, but there's another game left [in April], so hopefully we can rebound in that one and have a much better effort," said Marchand.

The game marked Boston's sixth in nine days, and seventh in 11 days. The busy schedule in March continues, with the Bruins next hosting the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

"We've got an opportunity to bounce back here, but I think our guys put up a good effort today and unfortunately you come up short, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I think overall we had a decent effort," said Julien.

"I thought we had a decent game for a back-to-back and the amount of games we've played lately," echoed Marchand. "But, you know, it was disappointing to give up those two points and we'll just have to regroup for Tuesday."

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