In an ugly, physical, brawling game — exactly how the Boston Bruins want to play — the Washington Capitals were beat up in every sense of the word. The Bruins owned the scoresheet, the fight scorecard, and the decision — handily — beating the Caps 4-1 before a raucous TD Garden St. Patrick’s weekend crowd.
Boston’s top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were called out by their coach recently for their spate of poor play. Apparently, the trio took it to heart and took it out on the Caps, as the line was on the ice for all four Boston goals today, and even scored the lone Washington goal, as Krejci tried to defend a pass by Marcus Johansson and instead deflected the puck off the boot of defenseman Johnny Boychuk into the Bruins goal for the Caps lone tally.
Johansson got credit for the goal, and it makes sense the way his season has gone that his second goal of the season would be awarded on a play where he didn’t intend to shoot the puck.
Testament to the physicality in this one, Matt Hendricks was in two separate fights with three different Bruins and Mike Ribeiro dropped the mitts for his first NHL fighting major.
It was precisely that type of game.
You got the idea early on that the Bruins were out to exact a little revenge against the Capitals for the way the Caps came back last week from a 3-0 defect to hang a loss on the Bruins out of nowhere. And perhaps there was lingering resentment that carried over from the way the Caps eliminated the Bruins on their home ice in last year’s playoffs. Boston set the physical theme early and never let up, forcing the Caps into an ugly, slow, grinding game of which they aren’t particularly suited.
The nastiness really came to ahead in the second period. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid took a pair of roughing minors in the middle of the frame, trying to intimidate the Capitals forwards. The Caps could do nothing on the resulting power plays, giving the Bruins that much more confidence in their bullying game plan.
Near the end of the stanza, the bad blood spilled over, with Riberio mixing it up with Boston’s leading scorer, the feisty Brad Marchand, after Marchand intervened between Ribeiro and Bruins defensemane Andrew Ference. Hendricks squared off with Horton (1 g, 2 a) just before the horn signalling the end of the frame standing up for the Caps’ leading scorer.
Halfway through the third things went from ugly to embarrassing.
Waiting for a faceoff in the Caps defensive end, Bruins heavyweight Shawn Thornton and Hendricks jousted for position in front of Michal Neuvirth (34 saves). Television replays show Hendricks three times saying “No,” to Thornton’s taunts. Nonetheless, after the drop, Thornton continued to slash and intimidate Hendricks until McQuaid stepped up and cornered Hendricks along the wall, at which point given the lesser of two evils Hendricks went at it with the smaller McQuaid.
Hendricks took the worst of it, regardless, ending up with bloody knuckles and a torn sweater to boot.
Hendricks was unavailable to the media after the game, but defenseman Karl Alzner had some strong words for how Thornton and McQuaid handled the altercation. “That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen, in my opinion,” the normally affable Alzner said in his teammates defense. “The fact that [the refs] allowed those guys to corner a guy like that…” Of course, it should also be pointed out that no Caps on the ice stepped up to even the odds for Hendricks.
Unfortunately, all the extra-curricular activity wasn’t enough to inspire the Capitals out of their doldrums. The loss drops the Caps record to 11-15-1 (23 pts, 14th in the conference) and a more than (or, less than?) dismal 4-8-1 on the road. The Caps have little time lo lick their wounds as they limp home to host the Buffalo Sabres Sunday at 7:00 pm.