The Bruins could have clinched third place in the Atlantic and a first-round meeting with Ottawa with any kind of win against Washington. Instead, after a 3-1 loss to the Capitals at TD Garden on Saturday, the Bruins must await Toronto’s final two outcomes.
If the Maple Leafs lose in regulation tonight to Pittsburgh, the Bruins will lock up third place and play the Senators next week.
If Toronto records three points over its next two games (Columbus on Sunday), the Bruins, as the second wildcard team, will play Washington. That is not something they want to do.
Anton Khudobin, in net for 40 minutes, was too sick to finish the game. Tuukka Rask relieved Khudobin in the third.
The Bruins pulled even at 15:13 of the second. Phillip Grubauer kicked out Drew Stafford’s close-range shot with his left pad. But Colin Miller jumped on the rebound and punched the puck past the line just before Brooks Orpik checked Stafford into the post, knocking the net off. Video review concluded that Miller’s shot crossed the line before the net came off its moorings.
The Capitals regained their lead at 16:09. Nicklas Backstrom controlled the puck behind the goal line and considered his options. As the Bruins hit the deck, Backstrom sent a pass up to Kevin Shattenkirk at the right point. The ex-Blue winged the puck past Khudobin to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
The Capitals thought they had a 3-1 edge at 17:31 when Shattenkirk sent in a long-distance shot. But Bruce Cassidy used his challenge to claim that Justin Williams interfered with Khudobin. The challenge was successful.
But the Capitals scored their third goal for good, this time at 19:10. After some rapid tape-to-tape passing from Nate Schmidt and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Williams buried a one-timer to make it a 3-1 game.
The Capitals scored the only goal of the first period. Marcus Johansson and Williams scooted through the neutral zone to start a rush against Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo. Johansson split the defensemen and dished to Williams on the right wing. As Johansson drove to the net, Williams lifted a pass over Chara’s stick and onto his center’s blade. After taking the return pass, Johansson tucked a backhander past Khudobin at 4:21.
The Bruins lost Carlo at 13:07 of the first. Alex Ovechkin checked Carlo into the boards, catching part of the defenseman’s head with his left shoulder. Carlo stayed down for several moments while being tended to by trainer Don DelNegro. Carlo skated off the ice with guidance from David Pastrnak and did not return.