Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Boston Wins Physical Contest in Repeat Manner

The Bruins Beat The Caps For The Third Consecutive Time This Season By The Same Score
Boston Bruins 3, Washington Capitals 2 F/SO
(Photo courtesy of Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

No this was not a rerun. But for some reason the Caps and Bruins have played each meeting this season to the same 3-2 score. Each game has seen the Bruins come away the victor. And for the second time the Bruins were able to win in shootout fashion.

It was the third consecutive solid defensive effort for the Capitals whose only blemish through 40 minutes was a quick goal following a Danius Zubrus faceoff loss. Defenseman Steve Eminger failed to step up and cover Brandon Bochenski who wristed the shot past Kolzig before he was set as the Islanders broke the scoreless tie 5 minutes and 6 seconds into the second period.

The game was physical from the start as Ben Clymer found himself in the middle of two scrums within the first nine minutes of the opening period. Clymer, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday missing his first game of the season, returned to the lineup re-energized. He dropped the gloves with Bruins defenseman Bobby Allen just 2:20 into the game. The two were only able to throw a few punches before being separated and as the aggressor, Clymer was assessed the extra roughing minor in the process. Just six minutes later though he would find himself a true sparing partner in the Bruins Jeremy Reich, who was recalled before the game by Boston to provide the team with a physical presence. Reich had 105 penalty minutes in 46 games this season with Providence of the AHL.

The physical play seemed to spark the Capitals as they controlled the action early on, tallying the games first six shots on goal and outshooting the Bruins in the first period 10-2. Despite all the shots, they were unable to beat goaltender Tim Thomas and the teams went into the first intermission scoreless.

Richard Zednik was stopped on a partial breakaway opportunity moments after Bochenski's goal as the Caps were unable to tally and trailed 1-0 after the second. The key moment in the period was the Capitals ability to kill off a double-minor thanks to an Alexander Semin high sticking penalty on Phil Kessel. The special teams effort meant the game was still within striking distance.

The third period had a completely different feel than the first two. The reason for it was the Caps ability to break onto the score sheet just 21 seconds in on a goal by number 21 Brooks Laich. Laich won the battle for the puck along the boards and found himself wide open in the slot. He rifled a slap shot and beat Thomas over his glove to tie the game at one. That goal rose the intensity of the game to a higher level.

Playing against his former team, who he has traded away from just a week earlier, Milan Jurcina provided the key save of the game at the 2:30 mark of the third period. After a shot had beaten Kolzig and was heading for the open net, Jurcina was able to get his right skate on it and deflect it off to the side keeping the game tied at one.

The Caps would later take their first lead of the game as rookie Eric Fehr put home his second goal of the season on a rebound following a Zednik slap shot from the slot. The goal was scored just five seconds after a Bruins penalty to Andrew Alberts had expired, giving Washington their first lead of the game. However, the lead wouldn't last as Boston took advantage of an Alex Ovechkin delay of game penalty to tie the game with 6:45 remaining on a beautiful slap shot by Patrice Bergeron. The goal was a result of some good puck movement on the Bruins power play that gave Kolzig no chance on Bergeron's shot following a nice cross ice pass from Marc Savard.

There was a scary moment during the overtime period as a powerful slap shot off the stick of the Bruins 6 foot 9 inch defenseman Zdeno Chara hit Ovechkin in the helmet on the side of his head while he was diving to block the shot. Ovechkin would lay on the ice for a moment causing the officials to stop play. Shortly after the stoppage, he jumped to his feet and skated off the ice and seemed to be okay.

In the shootout Alexander Semin got the Caps on the board first, just as he had done in Sunday's shootout win against the Islanders. But Ovechkin and Fehr were denied on their chances, and Boston's Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel tallied on consecutive attempts to give the Bruins the victory.

The result moved Boston into a tie with Washington for 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are currently nine points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for 8th and final playoff spot.

Game Notes:

Jeff Schultz led the Capitals in ice time with 23:51.... Alex Ovechkin was kept off the scoreboard for a career worst third consecutive game recording only 2 shots on the night.... Brooks Laich was the only Caps center with a winning faceoff percentage going 8 for 13 for 62%.... Ben Clymer returned to the lineup replacing Matt Bradley who was a healthy scratch. Kris Beech and Lawrence Nycholat joined Bradley as healthy scratches.... The Montreal Canadians placed disgruntled winger Sergei Samsonov on waivers today.

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