After entering the Olympic break on the highest of high notes and grabbing points in eight of their last 10 games, it can be easy to mistake the team that has returned to NHL action dressed in the Black and Gold as impostors.
The Washington Capitals kept Boston stuttering out of the gate in the sprint to finish the regular season, beating the Bruins 4-2 at the Garden behind two powerplay goals from captain Alex Ovechkin.
|AO8 carries the Caps to a W (photo by A.Trautwig/Getty)|
It was almost a carbon-copy of their last game versus Buffalo, as the Bruins again got down by multiple goals before finally finding just enough to make a game of it.
Except today, the Bruins never completed their comeback.
An early 5-on-3 man-advantage for the Bruins early in the first period yielded no results, and the game was kept scoreless until the leagues baddest goal scorer did his thing yet again.
Alex Ovechkin made the Bruins pay for their second penalty of the period, burying his league-leading 42nd goal of the season at 18:39 and putting the Caps up 1-0.
Ovechkin blasted his second goal of the game, again on the powerplay at 2:24 of the second period. The goal was his 800th career point in his NHL career, which ties him with fellow countryman Pavel Datsyuk for 17th place on the active lead.
Joel Ward made it 3-0 just after halfway through the period and looked to have ended the contest early when he stole an errant pass from a broken sequence between Johnny Boychuck and Matt Bartkowski and deked out Rask on the backhand.
But Boston fought back, scoring twice in the second before the period ended, once off the stick of Patrice Bergeron and again through Shawn Thornton.
Bergeron bagged his 17th of the year on the powerplay at 10:54 with Jason Chimera serving a penalty for tripping Jarome Iginla. Doug Hamilton worked some moves along the blueline after the faceoff win in the zone, which freed up the passing lane to the waiting Bergeron who blew it past Holtby.
The second goal was rightly credited to Shawn Thornton after the fact, as his feed to the front of the net bounced off a body or two and beat Holtby to bring the Bruins within one goal.
But the Bruins couldn't put another goal past Holtby in the final frame, and instead it was Eric Fehr sticking the dagger in the comeback at 10:53, springing on a loose puck that tripped up Torey Krug at the blueline. Fehr was all alone for the breakaway from center ice, and he kept it simple and zipped the puck through the five-hole of Rask to put the Caps up 4-2.
That's not to say Rask had a good day. He got beat on the two Ovechkin goals, as well as the Ward backhand before deflating the team and the crowd by letting the Fehr goal through.
It's another bad loss for the Bruins, as its the second straight game they've played from behind for much of the game after having two weeks off to rest up with the time off.
The B's went down 3-1 to Buffalo before coming back, taking the lead and then giving it up and losing in overtime to a dreadful team.
Today, they got down 3-0 before showing any signs of life and fighting back.
The Bruins split six penalties, two in each period, and gave up two powerplay goals. They again didn't play with a consistent effort or killer instinct that they have to, and instead coasted for much of the game before turning it on trying to get back into the action.
But it was too little too late, and it cost the Bruins greatly.
With another game right away tomorrow at the Rangers, the Bruins could potentially be staring at a three game losing streak right out of the break, which would be more than enough reason to sound the air-horn and declare a state of emergency for the club.
With the trade deadline looming just days away, the players need to right the ship now and not give the Bruins brass any second thoughts on whether or not they deserve to be on the team heading into the playoffs.
And that same Bruins brass needs to correctly diagnose whether the team can find its game and fast, or if they are in need of an addition or two before Wednesday.