This was one of those strange games where instead of not playing well throughout and winning (like in Nashville), the Capitals played tough for most of Tuesday night's contest against the Boston Bruins but wound up dropping the first game of this home-and-home series, 3-1.
Less than a minute after the Bruins' second goal, Capitals starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth left the contest with what the team later determined to be the flu.
"After the second goal, he complained of dizziness and a headache," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "So the next whistle he came off. That was the first I knew of it. If he wasn't feeling good we wouldn't have started him but we had no indication. He was feeling fine after the pregame warmup."
Boudreau didn't fault Neuvirth for the first two goals, which were surrendered on seven shots, and also praised Semyon Varlamov's 13-save performance in relief. And if you were wondering, no, Varlamov didn't see Matt Hunwick's shot on that final Bruins goal.
The initial plan appeared to be start Neuvirth on Tuesday and Varlamov in Boston on Thursday, but we'll have to see how this might affect that tomorrow, if at all.
Here are some other notes and quotes from Tuesday's loss:
--With the Capitals trailing late in the game not only did Boudreau bring out the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Semin line, he also put Ovechkin on defense. Of the final 7 minutes 43 seconds, Ovechkin played a staggering 6:12 (thanks to Corey Masisak for that stat).
"We've done it [moved Ovechkin to defense] before when we've been behind. Not that often, but I thought if he's being checked that close, give him a little bit of room for some shots," said Boudreau, who added that it wasn't the greatest game for the Capitals' regular top line. "The effort was there, I just didn't think things were going well for that whole line. [David] Krejci's line outplayed them, bottled them in. We tried to maneuver them away from them and eventually switched the lines up, but sometimes you have games like that."
--The penalty-kill streak lives on as the unit thwarted all four Bruins attempts and is now 25 for 25 on the season. There were a few standout moments in Tuesday's smattering of short-handed efforts: One was when Mike Knuble gained possession of the puck and proceeded to kill a significant amount of time in the Bruins' zone, much to the chagrin of the three players trying to get the puck away from him. Another occurred when Brooks Laich blocked consecutive shots by Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara during that 53-second, two-man advantage.
--Meanwhile, Jeff Schultz's streak of on-ice time without a goal against came to an end as he was among the group out for Milan Lucic's tally. But more than 128 minutes with one goal against isn't bad either.
--Marcus Johansson tallied his first NHL goal with a well-placed shot that beat Tim Thomas's glove side after receiving a nice set-up from Jason Chimera from behind the net.
--Alexander Semin recorded a game-high 10 shots on goal against the Bruins. It's one shy of his career high of 11. As a group, the Capitals registered a season-high 18 shots on goal in the third period.