March 5, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Collapse in the capital

By Jesse Connolly

Eric Fehr (left) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the B's. (Getty Images)

Final: Washington 4, Boston 3 (OT)

Recap: It all looked so easy. It almost began to border on silly. With 90 seconds left in the first period the Bruins took a 3-0 lead over Washington. Brad Marchand tallied on a shorthanded penalty shot. Zdeno Chara got his own rebound and put it past Braden Holtby to make it 2-0. The B’s power play came through when a Dougie Hamilton slapper put the Black and Gold comfortably ahead.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Mike Ribeiro got the Caps on the board with 5:46 gone in the second, and defenseman Tomas Kundratek’s first NHL goal cut the lead to one with 8:28 remaining in the middle frame.

In the third, struggling winger Wojtek Wolski – who I swear changes the pronunciation of his name every season – came down the slot and whacked a backhander past Tuukka Rask to knot things up. The Caps needed just one shot in overtime to nab the extra point, as Eric Fehr scored a beauty to hand Boston a soul-crushing defeat.

Records: Washington 9-11-1, 19 points; Boston 14-3-3, 31 points

Key Plays of the Game: The Bruins had so very many opportunities to either pad their lead or, following Wolski’s goal, take it back. Unfortunately they squandered half-a-dozen odd-man rushes, including a woeful one in which Greg Campbell just outright lost the puck while closing in on Holtby, and another that saw Tyler Seguin snap a shot a good three feet over the crossbar from close range.

Connolly’s Commendations: In order to fill space, we’ll give David Krejci an obligatory golf clap for his two assists on the night. He was also the game’s best faceoff man, winning 12-of-18 (67%) draws.

Quick kudos to Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid. They were the only Bruins with positive plus-minus ratings (all plus-1).

Connolly’s Critiques: If it was still hip to say “epic fail,” well that’s exactly how one would describe how the evening went for Boston’s much-maligned trio of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Chris Bourque. Kelly was on the ice for all three goals, while his fellow third-liners were each minus-2, making the group minus-7 as a whole. This, of course, comes on the heels of Peverley, Kelly and Dan Paille -- who took Bourque’s place on the unit with No. 48 scratched – being on the ice for each of the Habs’ third-period goals Sunday night. I don’t want to say things couldn’t get any worse for these guys, but shy of all three of them, I don’t know, spontaneously combusting while on a 3-on-0, there’s almost no way they could be any more down in the dumps about their play this season.

It’s hard to – especially after that lengthy rant – blame all of this on Tuukka, but the fact remains that the B’s have been pretty bad at holding third-period leads, especially for a club that went 38-0-0 when ahead after 40 minutes last season. This year, the Bruins have now been on the losing end in that scenario thrice. No bueno.

Whale of a night for Campbell. In addition to the muffed scoring chance, he went 0-for-6 at the dot.

He gets a full pardon for the way he’s played lately, but Patrice Bergeron definitely had an off night. No. 37 had just one shot, was minus-1 and went just 10-for-21 on faceoffs.

Notes: Notes? Where we’re going, we don’t need notes!

(Hops in the DeLorean)

Final Thoughts: If Sunday’s loss to Montreal was a punch to the gut, this collapse in the nation’s capital was some twisted combination of a swift kick to the Johnson and a hot frying pan to the face.

Next: Maple Leafs. TD Garden. Thursday. 7 o’clock. Be there or be square.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ