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Capitals 10, Bruins 2

Bruins taken to the beltway

Rolling team hits the skids in ugly Washington pileup

Email|Print| Text size + By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 4, 2008

WASHINGTON - Before last night's 10-2 bloodbath, Bruins coach Claude Julien came up with a twist.

Julien, concerned with the Bruins' wretched record in home games that directly followed road matches (0-4-1), decided to have his players fly home immediately after last night's meeting with Washington and stay at a downtown Boston hotel prior to tonight's showdown with Florida at TD Banknorth Garden.

Rumor has it, however, that the Bruins headed straight to Mass. General for ice packs, IVs, and transfusions to rid their bodies of last night's ill affair.

"Everything went wrong today," said Marco Sturm.

Washington is notorious for the stink of partisan politics. But last night, there was a particularly foul odor emanating from all things black and gold at the Verizon Center, the stage for a hockey game that turned into an embarrassment. The Capitals scored six first-period goals - the second-most a Bruins team ever has allowed in one period (Boston gave up seven to Detroit March 4, 1945).

"Unfortunately we weren't ready for it," said Julien. "When you're not ready for it, you can't just turn on a switch and adjust. The damage was done in the first eight minutes."

The Bruins entered Washington with six straight wins' worth of swagger, hungry to make it seven against a club that is currently out of playoff contention.

But the Capitals, energized by deadline-day deals that brought forwards Sergei Fedorov and Matt Cooke and goalie Cristobal Huet to the nation's capital, looked like a lethal blend of Wayne Gretzky's Oilers and the Broad Street Bullies before 17,189 at their home rink.

With skill, speed, and a pleasure in belting every opponent in sight, the Capitals rolled over the Bruins with eight goals to spare and reduced a mountain of confidence into a pile of rubble that will require a significant effort to repair.

"It was one of those nights where the harder you try, the worse it gets," said Zdeno Chara. "It happened, we had a bad game, and we have to put it behind us. We have another game [tonight] and we have to recover as fast as possible."

Yesterday morning, after his players whizzed through an efficient morning skate, Julien had the following prediction:

"It's probably going to be our toughest game tonight. This is a team where I don't care what their record is. They're a tough team to play against. We anticipate it being a hard-fought match tonight."

Julien was dead-on about Washington being a tough matchup for his club. Where Julien went wrong, however, was his belief that the game would be hard-fought by his team.

Thirty-two seconds into the game, Washington forward Matt Cooke scorched a wrister through an Aaron Ward screen that eluded Tim Thomas. At 6:18, sniper Alex Ovechkin somehow slipped behind the Boston defense, where he took a long-distance pass from linemate Nicklas Backstrom and beat Thomas on a breakaway for Washington's second score and his 50th of the season.

Thirty-five seconds after Ovechkin's milestone strike, Chara tried to spark his sagging team by throwing down with Washington tough guy Donald Brashear - a fight that only inspired the Bruins to give up two more goals within the next two minutes.

Ovechkin, skating against Boston's fourth line, scored his 51st goal of the year 15 seconds after Chara's fight. Then at 8:29, forward Matt Bradley beat Thomas with a long-distance slapper, prompting Julien to put in Alex Auld.

"I didn't feel that uncomfortable from the get-go," said Thomas (seven goals allowed on 24 shots), who started the second period, then split the third with Auld (three goals on 10 shots). "The first goal was a screen. The second goal was a breakaway. I got more uncomfortable as the game went on and the goals went in."

Ovechkin completed the hat trick at 15:31. Ovechkin, manning the right point, broke to the far post with hardly a blink of attention from the Boston penalty-killers. Alexander Semin, controlling the puck along the left-side wall, hit his teammate with a cross-ice pass, and Ovechkin completed an easy far-post tap-in. Forward Brooks Laich rounded out the first-period scoring at 18:43.

Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm scored on Huet in the second period, but Washington poured four more pucks into the net over the final 40 minutes, with Backstrom, Brashear, Laich, and Bradley adding markers.

"The good thing is that we won't sit on this loss for two or three days," said Chara. "We have to regroup as soon as possible and play much better [tonight]."

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