WASHINGTON – The Boston Bruins lost the game but earned a valuable point in the tight Eastern Conference standings after Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals got the win 44 seconds into the extra period on Brooks Laich’s power-play goal. The goal came 20 seconds after Boston’s Dennis Wideman was called for high-sticking.
With the overtime loss, Boston moved into seventh place with 85 points. Montreal is sixth with 86 points and Philadelphia is in eighth place with 84 points.
“It was a high stick, it was up, but it wasn’t one of those that hurt the guy,” Wideman said. “I was trying to push off a little bit, and I kind of lost my balance, and he was trying to cut back. It was against his face, but it wasn’t one he wasn’t going to get cut on, but it was high.”
The Bruins, who play here again in the regular-season finale on April 11, tried to put a positive spin on the OT loss.
“That was a good point. That was a good effort to get a point, but when you have an effort like that, you always hope to get a deuce out of it,” Wideman said.
Laich beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who finished with 27 saves. It was Laich’s 25th goal of the season. Alex Ovechkin finished with two assists.
“They don’t give us lots of chances to score goals,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin is tied for second to Sidney Crosby with 46 goals, but he has just four goals in his past 18 games.
The two-time defending NHL MVP was suspended for two games after shoving Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell from behind and sending him into the boards on March 14, and Washington coach Bruce Boudreau noticed that Ovechkin’s aggression had returned.
“He wasn’t afraid to hit today. He’s never afraid, but ever since the suspension, it’s been on his mind. He’s got to be him,” Boudreau said.
“I told him: ‘you’re not a dirty player, so just play the play you normally play.”‘
The Capitals played their first game as winners of the Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the league. They clinched home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs on Sunday night when San Jose lost in overtime to Colorado.
Nicklas Backstrom, who also assisted on the other two Washington goals, gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 7:36 of the first period with his 31st goal. Backstrom took a pass from Ovechkin and his slap shot trickled past Rask. The game was delayed for five minutes while the goal was being reviewed.
“I didn’t think it was in actually because I couldn’t see,” Backstrom said. “They called a goal. I guess it was in.”
With 1.6 seconds left in the period, the Bruins tied the score 1-1 when Wideman’s shot from the left point beat a screened Jose Theodore. It was Wideman’s fifth goal of the season.
Boston took a 2-1 lead when Patrice Bergeron took a pass from Milan Lucic and deked Theodore out of position and guided the puck into the net. The goal at 7:55 of the second period was Bergeron’s 19th of the season.
Theodore stopped 28 shots.
Mike Knuble scored his 27th goal when he took a pass from Ovechkin and in a scramble, tapped it past Rusk at 19:31 to tie the game 2-2. The goal was also reviewed, but the call stood.
NOTES: Washington has won four straight games against the Bruins. … Boudreau says that he won’t announce his starting playoff goalie until just before the Capitals’ first game. … Boston was without D Dennis Seidenberg. He cut his left wrist in Saturday’s game against Toronto. He tried to practice on Monday morning, but was unable to finish. … The Bruins were also without LW Shawn Thornton (upper body), D Andrew Ference (hernia) and D Mark Stuart (left pinkie). C Trent Whitfield was a healthy scratch. … Boston D Adam McQuaid played for the first time since Feb. 13. He had been out with a concussion. … Washington D Mike Green was a healthy scratch.