Bruce Boudreau returned to Washington on Monday night and left with a 3-2 win as his Anaheim Ducks recorded a ninth-straight victory to maintain their place as the top team in the NHL, but it wasn’t without its share of stress for the former Capitals coach.
“Oh I was nervous as all get-out. It just looked different. I don’t think I made eye contact with one player all night long because I couldn’t,” Boudreau said. “I thought our guys were really good after the first 10 minutes. They were trying hard for the guys that were in Washington, [assistant coach] Bob [Woods] and myself. I think they were a little nervous at the beginning but once we got our legs, I thought we shut them down pretty good.”
After Washington jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period, the home team slowly lost control of the game. Between frequent turnovers, trying to make creative plays at the top of the offensive zone rather than working to establish a cycle and a stretch of three penalties within 7 minutes and 32 seconds of the second period, the Capitals sabotaged their own efforts.
“In the second period, we got away from our game plan. For whatever reason, we didn’t execute,” Brooks Laich said. “We didn’t get pucks deep, we didn’t make them run and go to it, we didn’t lean on them. They are on a road trip, we didn’t tire them out in the second and third period. Simple things we didn’t do cost us the hockey game.”
The Capitals gave Anaheim just enough leeway to build momentum with two goals late in periods. Not to mention the Ducks also had the dual motivation of extending their winning streak and making sure Boudreau would leave F Street with a victory.
“You knew exactly what was going on and you knew how big this game was for him, but he downplayed it in the morning and yesterday,” said Saku Koivu, whose goal to tie the game in the final minute of the second period dealt a significant blow to the Capitals. “He said this is a game he wants to win because he wants to get first in the NHL before Christmas. We wanted to get the ninth win. I’m sure this game meant a lot to him. I remember when I first went to Montreal, even though it’s just the one game, you want to get the win. I’m real happy for him.”
More to come Tuesday morning in Five Thoughts.