(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

It can’t get much worse than that for the Boston Bruins. Through three periods, four unsuccessful power plays, and three goals surrendered, the B’s put forth their most lackluster performance of the season on Saturday afternoon. After rebounding against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, the Washington Capitals sent the Bruins back to the drawing board in a 3-0 win at TD Garden. The loss marks the first time the Bruins have been shut out this season.

Jeremy Swayman was under fire from the drop of the puck, making 25 saves on 27 shots in Boston’s lone bright spot from Saturday’s matinee matchup. Swayman allowed two goals—a point-blank snipe from the slot and a two-on-one tally—enough for the Capitals to pull out a convincing win.

“I think it’s mental for sure,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said after the loss. “It’s preparation, it’s focus, it’s wanting to sacrifice for the greater good…we need to keep working on our habits and our details and try to get better. If we’re not going to compete, it’s problematic.”

The early start on Causeway Street was apparent for the Bruins in the first period. In the 20-minute span, Boston fell victim to a 14-4 Washington shots-on-goal advantage, committing two penalties en route to one of the B’s worst periods of the season. To top it off, Matt Grzelcyk was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing Max Pacioretty. 

The lone highlight of the opening frame was Swayman, who faced a full-fledged shooting gallery. Swayman stood tall, making 14 saves, including a pair of denials against sharpshooter Alex Ovechkin. Boston played sloppy in front of their goaltender, unable to break out of their zone to create chances going the other way. The Bruins didn’t break the ice with their first shot on net until the 8:38 mark.

Boston was just as uninspired in the second, leading to Washington opening the scoring on the tail-end of Grzelcyk’s five-minute major. Brandon Carlo was without his stick, making the executive decision to sprawl out on the ice to take away the passing lane. That attempt was a flop, as Pacioretty threaded the needle to an uncovered T.J. Oshie, catching and shooting to put the Capitals on the board.

“It’s obviously not how we wanted today to go,” said Carlo. “Overall, I think we take what we can from this and learn from it. This and the Tuesday game as well. I think we just take the same approach, we obvisuly bounced back from that Tuesday game. That’s something that we’re going to be looking to do.”

Roughly five minutes later, Boston was given an opportunity to gain momentum, going on their first power play of the contest. Despite a few looks, the Bruins ultimately couldn’t formulate any high-danger scoring chances. From that point on, Washington copied and pasted their first-period effort, dominating Boston up and down the ice.

After getting booed off their home ice to conclude the second, Dylan Strome didn’t give Bruins fans anything to cheer about, sizzling a wrist shot past Swayman to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead. Oshie picked Charlie Coyle’s pocket in Boston’s offensive zone, sending the puck forward to Ovechkin for an odd-man rush where he feathered a feed to Strome for the score.

“I love our fans,” Montgomery said of the boos. “They’re hockey knowledgable; they’re not wrong.”

The Capitals continued to swarm the B’s in the third, but that’s not to say Boston wasn’t given their chances. They whiffed on three third-period power plays, struggling to get pucks to the front of Charlie Lindgren. The B’s even spent time on a six-on-four situation with Swayman pulled, which was countered by an Ovechkin empty-net goal to send Bruins fans out of the building.

“It just comes down to, if there’s a puck between you and I, want to break your leg to get it,” said Montgomery. “We don’t have that right now in two of the last three games. That’s what it boils down to. It’s not acceptable.”

Boston has now dropped two of their last three games out of the All-Star break, scoring a combined one goal in their two losses. While this may be a concerning start to the next portion of the season, this micro skid is not a cause for panic to Brad Marchand.

“It’s not concerning,” said Marchand. “You don’t want to see it happen, but it’s not concerning. We just got to get back to the consistency we had that lasted a little bit, get back to our game the next one.”

Game Notes

  • Marchand skated in his 999th game on Saturday, with his 1,000th NHL game approaching in a Tuesday matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Anthony Richard made his Bruins debut, who Montgomery thought “was one of the players who had jump and tenacity.” Richard totaled 10:38 of ice time.
  • The Bruins still hold a four-point lead in first place atop the Eastern Conference.