With the Washington Capitals about to face the Bruins tonight at TD Garden in Boston, I thought I would take a look back to a prior contest that took place between the two teams on November 5, 2010. This game took place at Verizon Center.
Entering the game, the Caps were 8-4 and tied for first place in the Southeast Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning and had won their previous two games. Boston had a 7-2 record and was in first place in the Northeast Division, with one point more than the Ottawa Senators.
The two teams had already faced each other twice, with the Bruins having won both of the previous contests. Michal Neuvirth would start in goal for the Capitals. He was backed up by Braden Holtby, who had not yet played in an NHL game. Holtby had been called up from the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, when the Caps’ regular goalie, Semyon Varlamov, injured his groin in late October.
The Caps started off the game outshooting and out hitting Boston. They drew two penalties before the midpoint of the opening period, resulting in a 5 on 3 power play opportunity, but could not convert. With less than five minutes left in the period, Matt Hendricks and Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves which sent them to the box for the remainder of the period and into the next period. The score was still 0-0 going into the first intermission.
The Caps’ efforts were finally rewarded less than a minute into the second period when defenseman Tyler Sloan blasted a shot from the point and scored a goal just under a minute into the second frame. He got an assist from Tomas Fleischmann.
At 7:35, Mike Green scored his third goal of the season, getting assists from Ovechkin and Backstrom, increasing the Caps’ lead to 2-0.
But then Alex Ovechkin took a slashing penalty with just over three minutes to go in the period. About halfway through the penalty kill, Alexander Semin poke checked the puck out of the Caps’ defensive zone, and then beat Bruins’ forward, Patrice Bergeron, along the boards to gain possession and create a 3 on 1, recording his eighth goal of the year. He was assisted by Mike Green. This put the Bruins down 3-0 which was the score at the end of the second intermission.
For the first two periods, the Caps had out-shot and out-chanced the Bruins and had given the Bruins little room to breathe. At the end of two periods, Washington had out-shot Boston, 25-9.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn’t think Tim Thomas was looking that great in goal, so he replaced Thomas with Tuukka Rask in hopes of changing momentum. The goalie change appeared to have the desired results for Boston, as the Bruins would strike back during third period.
About a minute and a half into the period, Jason Chimera took a hooking penalty. Boston scored on the ensuing power play a little over three minutes into the period and the score was now 3-1. Just 20 seconds later, John Erskine was penalized for interference. About 30 seconds later, Boston scored another power play goal and the score was now 3-2.
At that point, Coach Bruce Boudreau figured it was time for a goalie switch as he felt Neuvirth had not looked good when letting in the second and third goals for Boston. Hence, he removed Neuvirth from the game and replaced him with rookie Braden Holtby, who was making his NHL debut. For this game Neuvirth had made 11 saves on just 14 shots on goal.
Fortunately, the Caps turned the tide in their favor when John Carlson scored the go-ahead goal at 13:25, getting assists from Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon.
The Caps got an insurance goal at 19:08 when Alex Ovechkin scored an empty net goal, getting assists from Nicklas Backstrom and Jeff Schultz. The final score was 5-3. Braden Holtby made 4 saves out of 4 shots in ten minutes of work to earn his first NHL win in his first appearance.
Mike Green, who scored in his third consecutive game, spoke after the game, “I think most of the second period there we were dumping pucks in,” Green said. “We were chasing it and we were making it hard for them to make plays in our zone, and when they did make turnovers we capitalized on it and that’s our game right there. Any time we stray away from it we cause ourselves problems and you witnessed that in the third period.”
Caps Head Coach, Bruce Boudreau spoke, “We didn’t rely on the great save in the second period to look at the discrepancy in the goals,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know if they had a scoring chance, maybe one in the second period. And we did what we had to do and that’s get it deep, win the battles, go to the net and shoot the puck.”
Holtby ended up starting the next game for the Caps which was against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 7, 2010. That game ended up as a 3-2 win in Overtime.
By Diane Doyle