WASHINGTON -- With everything going on around the Boston Bruins the last two days, namely goaltender Tim Thomas boycotting the team’s trip to the White House, there was still an important hockey game to be played Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
Bruins coach Claude Julien wanted to enter the All-Star break with a win, but the Washington Capitals, even without Alexander Ovechkin (serving a three-game suspension), had other thoughts and handed Boston a 5-3 loss.
The Capitals’ Mathieu Perreault registered his first career hat trick, including the winning tally at 7:18 of the third period.
Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand scored for Boston. Seguin pumped in his 19th of the season and has three goals in his last two games after he was held without a goal in the previous six games. Marchand notched his 17th of the season with a power-play tally.
The first period featured some big hits from both teams, but thanks to the solid play and timely saves by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, Boston gained a 1-0 lead 17:46 of the first.
Peverley was credited with his eighth goal of the season when his backhand pass attempt to teammate Milan Lucic, who was camped out front, was redirected in by the stick of Washington defenseman Karl Alzner. Rask finished the opening period with 10 saves.
The Capitals wasted little time in the second period and tied the game at 1-1 when Cody Eakin took a shot from the left circle and the puck trickled past Rask at 2:14. The Capitals gained a 2-1 lead 41 seconds later when Perreault scored at 2:55.
The Bruins tied the game at 2-2 when Seguin broke his stick while forechecking behind the net, went to the bench for a new one, got back into the play, intercepted a pass and beat Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun with a nice backhander at 12:21.
The stalemate didn’t last long.
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk turned the puck over in the neutral zone, sending Perreault in on a breakaway that resulted in his second goal to give Washington a 3-2 lead at 14:23.
The back-and-forth battle continued.
During a Boston power play, Vokoun made a solid stop on a Patrice Bergeron attempt. The rebound kicked out near the point, and Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg unloaded a one-timer. Vokoun made the initial save, but Marchand was right there waiting for the rebound and knocked it home to tie the game at 3-3 at 17:42.
But turnovers continued to haunt the Bruins.
This time Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid gave away the puck on Washington blue line and the Capitals capitalized with a sustained attack in the offensive zone that ended with Perreault’s third of the game for a 4-3 lead. Washington added an empty-net goal in waning seconds.
KREJCI DINGED UP: Bruins forward David Krejci blocked a slap shot with his right foot in the opening minutes of the game and went to the bench clearly in pain. He played a few more shifts before going to the locker room toward the end of the period, forcing Julien to tweak his lines a bit. Washington had control of the puck in the offensive zone when Capitals defenseman John Carlson unloaded a slap shot from point-blank range on Krejci and drilled him on the foot. Krejci returned to start the second period.
WIDEMAN APPLAUDED: During his playing days with the Bruins, current Washington defenseman Dennis Wideman rarely heard cheers. During the first period, he was honored on the video board for playing his 500th career game in the NHL and for his first All-Star selection. Fans at the Verizon Center gave him a nice ovation, and he acknowledged the fans with a wave. Then he added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
UP NEXT: The majority of the Bruins will have a much-needed five-day break for the annual mid-winter All-Star festivities. Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Seguin, along with Julien and his entire coaching staff, will participate in the festivities in Ottawa this weekend.