Tuesday night’s Baltimore Hockey Classic between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins held some similarities to the Caps’ previous two preseason games in the 2013 exhibition season. But the biggest difference was the outcome. The Caps wound up on the short end of a 3-2 shootout decision.
Speaking of shootout, there’s the biggest similarity. Tuesday’s game marked the third time in as many contests that a skill competition was required to determine winner of the contest. It was also the third time in as many games that the shootout went four or more rounds before finally ending.
Tuesday’s game with the Bruins was also the third time in as many games that a 2-0 lead evaporated and it was the second time in as many games that the Capitals started the process of surrendering a 2-0 lead by allowing the first goal of the game with less than a minute left in the second period.
On Tuesday against Boston, Washington dressed the same group of forwards that it brought to Belleville, Ont. for Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over Winnipeg. Once again, it was training camp invitee Nathan Walker who helped to start the scoring for the Caps.
Walker forced a turnover high in the Boston end, then quickly fed fellow rookie Tom Wilson down low near the Boston cage. Wilson was perfectly positioned to quickly tuck the puck past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, and he did so to give the Caps a 1-0 lead at 7:18 of the first.
Walker also earned a penalty shot in the second period, but was unable to convert.
The Caps nursed that 1-0 lead to the latter stages of the second period, which turned out to be a bit unorthodox. With four minutes left in the frame, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin went to make a hit in the Boston end. He missed the hit and instead took out a pane of glass at the venerable Baltimore Arena.
Rather than wait for the glass to be replaced, the officials waved the players off the ice for an early intermission. When the glass was replaced, the two teams reconvened to play the final four minutes of the middle frame.
Those four minutes proved to be eventful.
The Caps pushed their lead to 2-0 at 18:49 of the second when Casey Wellman tallied. After winning the draw in the Boston end, Wellman went to the slot. A few sharp passes later, he fired a shot from the slot that beat B’s goaltender Niklas Svedberg. Caps blueliners Steve Oleksy and Cameron Schilling picked up the assists.
Less than a minute later – and with just seconds remaining in the second period – the B’s halved Washington’s lead. Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer’s misplay of the puck led to a goalmouth scramble and a tally for Bruins rookie Justin Florek. Florek’s goal made it a 2-1 game going into the third period.
Washington winger Aaron Volpatti went off for cross-checking at 5:51 of the third, and the Caps killed off the minor without incident. But just three seconds after Volpatti was released from the box, Boston center Chris Kelly ripped a one-timer from the right circle that beat Grubauer.
The Caps had a couple of strong chances late in regulation, and Ovechkin barely missed winning it in the waning seconds of regulation.
Instead, the Caps and Bruins went to a shootout that stretched to eight rounds before Bruins forward Carter Camper mercifully scored to end it and give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
The two teams will meet again in Boston on Monday night.