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Capitals 2, Bruins 1

Bruins miss chances in shootout loss

Things weren't looking up for Bruins forward Marc Savard after the Capitals' Boyd Gordon took him down. Things weren't looking up for Bruins forward Marc Savard after the Capitals' Boyd Gordon took him down. (Nick Wass/Associated Press)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 17, 2008

WASHINGTON - From Marc Savard's point of view, every component of the Bruins' odd-man rush toward the end of overtime unfolded perfectly.

With the Capitals caught up ice, Savard kicked off the breakout, dishing the puck to the left side for Glen Murray. Murray considered his options - a pass back to Savard, an off-wing shot on goalie Cristobal Huet, a dish to a coming-with-speed Dennis Wideman - and went with the final play.

Murray laid a puck back for Wideman, the third man high, for the potential winning score. Wideman's shot, however, went wide of the Washington net, keeping the score tied, 1-1, and sending the game into the shootout, where forwards Alexander Semin and Viktor Kozlov put pucks past Alex Auld to give the Capitals a 2-1 victory before 18,277 at the Verizon Center.

"I thought we played well enough to deserve a win, but that's the way it goes now," said coach Claude Julien. "Every game is so tight. When you're on the winning side of shootouts, it's great. The other side is tough to take, especially when points are so important, but that's the way it goes."

The Bruins' immediate disappointment, however, was tempered by the achievement of claiming 3 points over the last two games - both without defenseman Zdeno Chara.

"We did a lot of good things," said Auld. "It was a huge point. Obviously, we wanted 2. But we have to look at the big picture. We got 3 out of 4 points on the weekend. We really battled hard and we're getting our game back to where we want it."

Without Chara, superstar Alex Ovechkin's constant shadow, the Bruins were facing the tall task of limiting the Russian's scoring chances. With Chara in the lineup during their last match at the Verizon Center, Ovechkin scored three goals, including his 50th of the season, and he threatened to do a number on the Boston defense yesterday.

But Ovechkin had to settle for a humbling line: five shots, six attempts stuffed by the Boston defense, zero points, and one diving penalty in 25:49 of ice time.

"We were very alert to make sure we didn't let him get behind us," said Julien.

The only goal the Bruins allowed in the first 65 minutes came with some misfortune. At 16:55 of the first period, Andrew Ference was nabbed for holding. Then with 39 seconds remaining on Ference's infraction, Aaron Ward was sent off for high-sticking, giving the deadly Washington power play - Ovechkin and defenseman Mike Green at the points, with Semin and talented forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov down low - a two-man advantage.

Backstrom, controlling the puck deep in the right corner, threw a pass back to Fedorov at the top of the right circle. With the Bruins cheating to Ovechkin's side, preventing Fedorov from sliding it over for a one-timer, the veteran center wound up and cranked a shot that skimmed off the shinpad of Wideman and deflected past Auld at 18:42.

While the Capitals had their opportunities - Semin had a handful of bona fide scoring chances - the Bruins went the other way and put heavy pressure on Huet, who had to make 39 stops, including 17 in the third period.

In the second period, the Bruins tied the game after ex-Boston defenseman Milan Jurcina was tagged with a high-sticking double minor for clipping Wideman in the kisser (this just after stepping out of the penalty box after serving a hooking penalty). During the four-minute power play, Chuck Kobasew netted the tying goal. Milan Lucic, taking a clearing pass from Matt Lashoff, skated up the left-side wall and spotted Kobasew, the third forward high, entering the zone on the far side. Lucic gave Kobasew a crisp cross-ice pass, and the winger powered a slap shot between the pads of Huet for his 22d strike of the year.

In the third period, Boston had a sparkling chance to take the lead when Savard picked off a Fedorov pass in the Washington zone. Savard had a wide-open shooting lane and cranked a slapper that Huet turned aside.

In the shootout, Semin, the first shooter, gave his team a 1-0 lead. Semin charged the net and came to a stop, throwing off Auld's timing, then picked the corner over the netminder's glove. Huet stuffed Kobasew with his blocker, and after Auld booted out an attempt by Ovechkin, Phil Kessel aimed to tie the shootout. But Kessel, trying to go backhand on Huet, didn't get much on it and it went wide. Then Kozlov iced the result by propelling a wrist shot through Auld.

"Defensively, it was a pretty sound game," said Julien. "They had their chances and we had ours. You've got to give a lot of credit to both goaltenders because both played extremely well."

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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