WASHINGTON, DC -- The Washington Capitals were down 3-1 in the third period against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, but momentum had shifted. They had jump. They had puck possession. They had what appeared to be a chance to rally in a critical home game for their playoff chances.
Then Alex Ovechkin skated across the ice and hit Loui Eriksson at 11:40 of the third. Then he was sent to the penalty box for charging. And then Patrice Bergeron scored on the ensuing power play to increase the Bruins’ lead en route to a 4-2 win. (GIF via the great Pete Blackburn.)
“Those two minutes killed our chances,” said Ovechkin, who had no points on 5 shots on goal and had a minus-1 vs. Boston.
“He wasn’t ready. I make a hit. Was it a penalty, two minutes? I think it changed the game right away, they scored a goal. I think it was a bad call,” he said.
Ovechkin appeared to skate a good distance to make the hit, although the “violent” aspect of a charging call might be in question.
His coach disagreed with the call, but said his special teams needed to prevent it from hurting the Capitals’ momentum.
“Terrible,” said Adam Oates. “But it doesn’t change the game. It’s a call at the referee’s discretion. I don’t agree with it. But we have to kill it.”
The Capitals remained stuck on 80 points with eight games remaining, and travel to Nashville on Sunday. They’re currently in ninth place and could drop to 10th if the Toronto Maple Leafs get a point against Detroit.
The Bruins, meanwhile, now have 108 points and moved back ahead of St. Louis for the Presidents’ Trophy. The Blues host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.