By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
I've come to the anything-but-shocking conclusion that the Boston Bruins may never beat the Washington Capitals again.
It's perhaps the only practical conclusion one can come to after Thursday's effort, which saw the Bruins score, but almost immediately fall victim to quick response goals in what finished as a 4-2 loss on TD Garden ice.
"I thought we certainly gave ourselves a chance to win the game, didn’t happen again against this team," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team's latest defeat to the Capitals. "So, have to get over that hurdle, but yup.
"A lot of nights that would be good enough for points, if not two points. But not tonight."
Taking it to the Capitals early, a 17-shot barrage on Caps goaltender Braden Holtby came without a siren-inducing strike (as if you'd expect anything less out of the game's greatest Bruin Killer), while Jakub Vrana found paydirt on a breakaway strike on one of Washington's measly five shots in the opening frame. Again, just as you pictured this one playing out.
With chances galore to their name, the Bruins finally broke through on Holtby at the 14:11 mark of the first period when the Capitals decided to let Ryan Donato go completely uncovered in the attacking zone, giving Donato all the space needed to strike for his sixth goal of the season.
A goal that had enough energy behind it to make you think this was an early May game and not just Game 44 of 82, the goal was good for Boston's first in their last 111 minutes and 52 seconds of hockey against Holtby, and gave the crowd a game.
...Then Alex Ovechkin scored just 39 seconds later to re-establish Washington's one-goal edge.
The Bruins were not done, though, and answered once more on a David Krejci slapper that beat Holtby upstairs 4:37 into the third period. But once again, the Capitals responded, this time needing 1:09 to retake the lead.
This time around, and on the shoulders of what finished as a 39-save effort from Holtby, they didn't let it slip.
"It’s frustrating," Brad Marchand admitted. "When you get back in the game like that you want to try to stay with that momentum and it seemed like every time we got a goal there they scored right after. So it’s tough to win when you do that, but we had a good game. I mean, we could have easily won that game, their goalie had a lot of good saves."
There's no way around saying it: The Bruins deserved a better fate in this game. Their offensive pressure was at times relentless, leaving Holtby to (somehow successfully) swim around his crease, and the Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson line was actually a positive for the Bruins in a seemingly unfavorable matchup against a 'heavier' team. Still, the goals would not come against a Capitals goaltender that's now recorded victories in all but two of his 18 career meetings with the Bruins.
"That’s how it goes sometimes," Marchand said.
In this rivalry, though, that's how it goes every time.
The Bruins will get one more chance at ending this skid, but it will have to wait until Feb. 3 in Washington.