BOSTON — With the exception of a handful who came to support the visitors, fans who packed TD Garden on Thursday night wanted to see history reversed.
All they saw was a great hockey game.
The Bruins fell to the Capitals for the 14th straight time, dropping a 4-2 decision despite out-shooting the defending Stanley Cup champions by a 41-22 margin.
The B’s, who brought a five-game winning streak into the game, twice managed to tie up the Caps, only to give up the go-ahead goal almost immediately. It happened for the second time in the third period, when David Krejci scored a power-play goal against Braden Holtby — now 12-0 against the B’s — at 4:37, only to see Niklas Backstrom come back to beat Jaroslav Halak (18 saves) with a wrist shot at 5:46.
Alexander Ovechkin’s second goal of the game, an empty-netter with 1:15 to play, made sure the B’s would stay winless (0-11-3) against the Capitals since their last victory on March 29, 2014.
Although it wasn’t necessarily a reflection of bona fide scoring chances, the Bruins had a 17-5 advantage in shots at the end of the first period, but they trailed 1-0. The Capitals goal came after 6:38, when T.J. Oshie collected a pass in the Capitals’ high slot and snapped it through the defense pairing of Torey Krug and John Moore to Jakub Vrana, who had sped out of the defensive zone when the puck was turned over. Vrana scored his 15th goal of the season on the breakaway, beating Halak to the blocker side.
The Bruins, who hadn’t done much with the early power play they were awarded when Jonas Siegenthaler hauled down Brad Marchand as he took David Krejci’s perfect pass into the left circle, looked much sharper when Michal Kempny was penalized for tripping Marchand in the neutral zone at 14:13. A couple of strong puck retrievals and passes by Jake DeBrusk have Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak chances from good scoring positions, but neither was converted.
The second period was more of an even match, and highlighted by the increasingly physical battle between the Bruins’ checking group of Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner against the Caps’ top line of Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov and right wing Tom Wilson. One shift saw every member of the line land a solid in the Capitals’ zone, resulting in a Wagner shot from the slot that missed the net.
The Bruins finally did make sure Holtby wouldn’t earn his fifth career shutout against them when Ryan Donato scored at 14:11. The goal was the product of a tremendous shift by defenseman John Moore, who battled to keep several pucks alive deep in Capitals territory, and good positioning by Donato, who backed up Moore at the point. Jakob Forsbacka eventually pushed the puck back to Torey Krug, who scooped it over a Caps’ stick to Donato, and he unloaded a wrist shot over Holtby’s glove for his sixth goal of the season.
The Bruins didn’t gain any momentum, though. After Ovechkin bumped Acciari off a puck behind the net, he backed out just below the left circle, from where he snapped Wilson’s pass over Halak’s right shoulder just 39 seconds after Donato scored to put the Caps back up, 2-1.