B's start fast but Caps take control
The Bruins had a good start to the game. On the very first shift, the Savard line came out and put good pressure on the Caps. After an early, acrobatic goalmouth save Jose Theodore lost his stick and the Bruins were able to sustain enough pressure in the Washington zone to make a full line change. The Bergeron line continued to force the Caps to play defense in their zone for almost a a full minute. The whole time, Theodore was playing with a defensman's stick as his was in the corner after that early save on Marc Savard.
Had the Bruins had any luck at all, they could have taken the lead and forced the Caps to play from behind. With about 7:00 minutes left in the first period, the fourth line of Steve Begin, Byron Bitz and Shawn Thornton were continuing the early pressure that the rest of the guys had opened with. Theodore made a save from a shot coming from the top of the circle. He didn't hold the puck but benefitted from a quick whistle as the puck squirted near the crease where it was deflected out to the slot. Steve Begin buried a shot into the open net but the goal was immediately waved off as the whistle had blown. Would have been a nice start for the new Bruin.
For most of the period, both teams traded shots with five on five hockey. Both teams had two power plays in the period but it was Washington who did anything with them. After a sloppy Bruin “too many men on the ice” call, the faceoff was in the B's end. Fifteen seconds later, it was 1-0 Caps and downhill for the B's. Off the draw, Alex Semin with a nice play at the blueline fed the puck low to Alex Ovechkin. He fed a pass across to Nicklas Backstrom who one timed it but misfired. Before Thomas could fall on the puck, Brooks Laich tipped the puck into the empty net.
The second period, the Caps started to really take control of the game. Everything the Bruins did, the Caps had an answer for it. Midway through the second, the B's on a bad line change opened up room for the Great 8. Big mistake as Semin fed Backstrom near the top of the circle and Backstrom hit Ovechkin in stride. Poor Tim Thomas, he had no chance. AO with all that time and space just ripped one by for the 2-0 Caps lead. More mental mistakes were costly as Zdeno Chara got a cross checking call to end the second period.
To start the third period, the B's needed a big penalty kill and not go down 3-0. Sixteen seconds later, it was Laich scoring on passes from Backstrom and Semin. So much for the penalty kill. That goal completely took the wind out of the Bruin sails and 1:37 later it was Ovechkin scoring on passes from Tom Poti and Laich. The B's righted the ship – if you want to call it that and gave the Garden faithful a bit of false hope midway through the final period. With Marco Sturm in the penalty box, Patrice Bergeron stole the puck at the Bruin blueline and went 1 on 1 with Theodore and scored on a backhander. The Bruin assists were given to Steve Begin and Mark Stuart but I thought it should have been an unassisted goal.
Shawn Thornton and John Erskine dropped the mittens for the final “highlight” of the night.
The Bruins didn't look good at all after the opening ten minutes and coach Claude Julien said afterwards “without throwing blame at anybody in particular, we had a lot of good players who were not very good for us tonight. There’s a lot of mental mistakes, and you hope to take this game and use it as a learning experience. What the guys need to learn from this, again, I don’t think that’s the kind of game you want to play in your own building in front of your own friends, and certainly as a home opener.”
Tonight's Three Stars
1 – Ovechkin with 2 goals and 1 assist
2 – Laich with 2 goals and 1 assist
3 – Backstrom with 3 assists
Next up the Bruins welcome Aaron Ward, Stephan Yelle and the rest of the Carolina Hurricanes back to Boston on Saturday evening to renew old friendships.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mulligan