Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Capitals 5, Bruins 3: B's left chasing on way to 11th straight loss to Capitals

Ty Anderson
December 14, 2017 - 11:48 pm

Here’s a borderline unbelievable stat: It has now been 344 minutes and nine seconds since the Bruins held a lead of any sort against Capitals netminder Braden Holtby.

For additional context to understand the timeline of that figure, their last lead dates all the way back to Nov. 2015, and that came as a result of a goal from Jimmy Hayes.

This seems like the best way to let you know that the Bruins, now on an 11-game losing streak to the Capitals (their longest against any opponent), dropped Thursday’s head-to-head with Holtby and the Capitals at the TD Garden by a 5-3 final.

“[The losing streak is] not something necessarily that I was thinking before the game being honest with you,” said Patrice Bergeron after the loss. “And it was a back-to-back game. We knew it was a challenge and we had to be good and be smart. A few breakdowns and a little lack of discipline made us pay is the bottom line.”

In a period with 12 saves from Anton Khudobin, it was the wheels of Jakub Vrana that led the Capitals to the game’s first lead, scored at the 17:34 mark of the frame.

It was far from a backbreaking goal -- the Bruins managed to tie things up in the second period behind a Bergeron power-play goal -- but it allowed a rested Washington group to control the pace of play. This has been a frequent problem in these meetings.

“We seem to wait around to see what would happen and then get behind and then react to it,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted the loss. “So we were hoping we could set the tempo, and try to be physical, more assertive, control the play early against a team that was sitting here, waiting for us, and we played the night before... There’s been too much of chasing the game, and as it turned out, we ended up doing that again.”

Despite some straight-up buzzing efforts from the B’s, it was a Nicklas Backstrom goal that restored the Washington lead less than eight minutes after the Bergeron goal.

From there, the Capitals went back to their defensive shell, and fortified it with two goals courtesy of Alex Chiasson in just a 3:38 span in the third period.

The Bruins made it a two-goal loss with goals from David Krejci and Bergeron around an Alex Ovechkin empty-netter, but they were ‘box score’ goals in the sense that they would have led to believe that this game was closer than it was. Especially late.

“I feel like they just kind of have that group that’s good at getting the pucks out of their own zone,” Brandon Carlo said of the consistent uphill climb they’re tasked with against a lead-protecting Caps club. “So, it makes it harder on us to stay down low and create more offensive chances around their net. They’re big bodies, so we just have to get more pucks to the net and get in front of the net a little bit more.”

“To have to battle back is a tall ask. And against anybody. It took us right to the last two minutes, the last minute last night [in Detroit],” Cassidy acknowledged. “And tonight, where you’re pushing, you’re pushing, there has to be a breakdown on their part.

“And there were a few. We just weren’t able to finish.

“[The Capitals] are good through the neutral zone. If there was an area of our game that needed to be better, especially early on was our neutral zone defense. I don’t think we gapped up well enough and I didn’t think we were able to kill their entries. It led to some pretty good chances. Now you are defending, expending a lot of energy. You need your energy to score. Like I said, in the second we finally found that but we couldn’t [score].”

This, of course, is nothing new when talking about Holtby and the Bruins.

He’s straight-up dominated the Bruins throughout his NHL career (Holtby now has 13 wins and a save percentage north of .940 in 15 career games against the Bruins), and he’s caught the breaks when needed. Tonight was no exception, either, with the Bruins ringing iron on at least three of their 74 shot attempts in a 37-shot effort.

“We shot a lot of pucks and some things didn’t go our way,” B’s netminder Anton Khudobin, who allowed four goals on 21 shots en route to his second straight loss, said. “When the black cat crosses the road, it’s just a black cat across the road.”

It’s a road that the Bruins continue to look for an exit off.

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