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Caps Take 7-3 Drubbing from Bruins

Six unanswered Boston goals in less than 15 minutes of playing time leads to Caps' fourth straight loss

by Mike Vogel @vogscaps / washingtoncaps.com

A promising start went swiftly south for the Capitals in their Monday night meeting with the Boston Bruins. After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Caps unraveled and found themselves on the wrong end of a 7-3 decision, their fourth straight setback (0-2-2) and their second four-goal defeat in a span of three games.

Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored two goals each, and Matt Grzelcyk had a five-point night (one goal, four assists) to fuel the Bruins, who have won five of six since returning from what was a 15-day holiday break for them.

"They got a couple on the power play there and got themselves back in the game," says Caps defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk. "I think we got a little bit away from keeping it simple, getting pucks in and turning the puck over a little too much. They're a team that thrives off of that, and they showed that."

The first period was a high event frame. Conor Sheary staked Washington to an early lead at 3:02 of the first, pouncing on a loose puck down low and putting a backhander behind Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark to give the Capitals a 1-0 advantage.

Video: BOS@WSH: Sheary buries loose puck for opening goal

Nine and a half minutes later, Sheary struck again. From behind his own net, Grzelcyk turned it over in front, putting it right on Sheary's tape. From just below the left dot, the Washington winger let it rip right away, tucking it far corner for a 2-0 Washington lead at 12:32.

That was as good as it got for the Caps on this night. Late in the first, they found themselves deep in the penalty soup, and they weren't able to extricate themselves.

It started when Evgeny Kuznetsov went off for holding at 13:27. With 45 seconds left on that penalty, Nic Dowd carved Marchand's nose with his stick, incurring a double minor to put Boston on a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds, with plenty of 5-on-4 time to follow. B's center Patrice Bergeron helped the Caps out by taking an interference minor during the 5-on-3, inserting some 4-on-4 time into the span between then and the end of Dowd's sentence.

But before the Caps could get to the end of Dowd's term in the box, John Carlson went off for cross-checking, giving Boston a shorter 5-on-3. This time, the Bruins made good on both ends. They quickly tied the game on power-play goals from Pastrnak at 18:34 and a newly repaired Marchand at 19:14.

Ullmark made two key special teams stops in the first to keep the Caps from extending their 2-0 lead; he made a flashy glove save on Alex Ovechkin's one-timer from his left dot office on a Washington power play midway through the first, and he made an even better stop on Lars Eller's shorthanded bid on a 2-on-1 late in the frame.

"The start was good," says Caps coach Peter Laviolette. "I thought we came out and did the right things; we were tight. The back-to-back 5-on-3s were tough. They score two goals and it's a 2-2 game after a pretty good first period of 5-on-5 hockey. And I don't think that we responded very well from there." 

Washington's unraveling continued well into the second. They were guilty of throwing pucks away in all three zones, and it came back to bite them hard.

A Daniel Sprong turnover in neutral ice resulted in a transition goal from Grzelcyk at 2:51, giving Boston its first lead of the night at 3-2.

Seconds after Bergeron blocked Kuznetsov's bid to tie the game while Ullmark was out in Annandale, the Bruins came back up ice and made it 4-2 on a Craig Smith goal at 7:53. Smith's goal put an end to Zach Fucale's night; he yielded the Caps crease to Vitek Vanecek after being reached for four goals on 16 shots in 27:53 of work.

Boston wasted little time in baptizing Vanecek. A Tom Wilson turnover in Boston ice enabled Urho Vaakanainen to quickly send Taylor Hall off on a 2-on-1 with Pastrnak. The former fed the latter, who made it 5-2 on the first shot on Vanecek.

After about four minutes of quiet, Erik Haula made it a 6-2 game at 13:06, scoring Boston's sixth unanswered goal in a span of 14:35 of playing time.

Washington got one back late in the second when Ovechkin hit T.J. Oshie going to the net to halt the Boston string of unanswered goals at 14:06, making it 6-3.

Video: BOS@WSH: Oshie scores in 2nd period

In the third, another Caps turnover resulted in Marchand's second of the night, a rebound goal off the rush at 10:59 that accounted for the 7-3 final.

"Fortunately, we were able to get a 5-on-3 goal," says Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think that settled us down and got us back into the game. Then March's goal, I think it goes in off a stick, but that's a shot we got last year in the playoffs against this [Washington penalty] kill, and we wanted to make sure we took it, whether it was [Pastrnak] on his strong side or a March one-timer, whoever is over there.

"So good for us for sticking with the plan. It got us back into the game and we were pretty good after that."

For the Caps, it was just one of those nights. Once the Bruins got the train rolling, Washington couldn't get it stopped.

"Once it got to 2-2 from the power plays, in the second period there were odd-man rushes against that came from different reasons," says Laviolette. "One of them came from us trying to score a goal. It turned around immediately and we had four guys on the attack. Another time we're trying to move the puck up the ice. We use the boards, and it hits the linesman in the knee as he was up on the bench. It turns around and comes right back, and it's in the back of our net.

Video: Postgame | Peter Laviolette

"The odd man rushes and the turnovers in the second period didn't help us play a tight game. You can't do that against that team."

That's for sure. Boston has poured in 22 goals at 5-on-5 in six games since the calendar flipped to 2022.

Monday's loss was Washington's fourth in its last five home games (1-3-1). The Caps have been dented for 19 goals against during their four-game losing streak, getting outscored 12-7 at 5-on-5 during that stretch.

"It's just attention to detail," says Sheary. "The forwards need to work back to help our defensemen out on breakouts and stuff like that. We're getting stretched out with those long passes off of turnovers and odd-man rushes. I think that's' where they got most of their offense. It felt like they had five 2-on-1s in that second period and they capitalized on a few of them."

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