LANDOVER -- Yesterday's game was all kinds of ugly for the Washington Capitals, with a sellout crowd as witness.
They got pushed all over the ice by the Boston Bruins and looked more like a team in trouble than a team chasing the New York Rangers for first place in the Patrick Division.
The result was a 4-1 Bruins victory at the Capital Centre, and the Bruins did it despite having six players out with injuries.
"They had half their team out and still played well," said Washington right wing Alan May. "They see someone hurt and the other guys come in and go for it. It was embarrassing the way we played. We'd better learn from it."
May was especially angry over Boston's second goal, scored by center Dave Poulin off a faceoff at the right circle.
"Goals like that should never happen," said May. "It's not just the center, but also the wingers. No one changed. They didn't put in the extra effort. Today, our guys were not going hard. We should never let this happen at home."
Poulin's goal came 4:31 into the second period and gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Poulin won the faceoff and sent the puck to Glen Wesley, who skated to the bottom of the circle, where he got off a backhand that was tipped into the goal by Poulin.
"That faceoff goal is a concern," said Washington coach Terry Murray. "We've lost some key faceoffs this year, and it has hurt us. Boston outplayed us in all the phases today. They did what they wanted to do."
Poulin was playing in only his third game of the season after missing 61 with an abdominal/groin injury that required surgery.
The game was the weakest offensive performance at home this season for the Capitals, who were limited to one goal for the first time and took only 18 shots.
The previous low shot total at home this season was 22, against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 18.
Washington entered the game as the highest-scoring team in the NHL (274 goals to 268 for the Red Wings) and fourth in points behind the Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Red Wings.
But in a little more than 24 hours, the Capitals had blown a three-goal lead in the third period to Boston on the road for a 5-5 tie, then lost by three at home.
Murray said: "It should have been a level playing field. But it looked as if the Bruins were sitting here and resting a day and waiting for us to come and play. We didn't pursue the puck, we didn't skate, we didn't forecheck and they took it to us. I know it sounds so negative, but you have to lay it on the line."
Bruins coach Rick Bowness said: "This was probably the best road game we have played all year. We were able to hold the
highest-scoring team in the league to 18 shots on their ice. Our defense did a great job, our forwards did a good job of backchecking and they worked together pretty well."
Washington made one run at the Bruins, when Dale Hunter scored unassisted at 8:15 of the second period to reduce the lead to 2-1.
But the Bruins answered with two goals in 34 seconds late in the third period. Adam Oates scored at 15:00 and Bob Carpenter at 15:34, running the lead to 4-1 and sending the crowd of 18,130 scurrying to the exits.
NOTES: Capitals points leader Randy Burridge (67) went down DTC with a strained left knee at 12:43 of the second period and didn't return. He will be examined today to determine the extent of the injury. . . . The Capitals signed D Jason Woolley, 22. Woolley had seven assists as a member of the 1992 Canadian Olympic team. . . . The Capitals skills competition will be held Wednesday night at the Capital Centre at 7:30. Fans can watch free of charge the contests in puck-control relay, rapid-fire shooting, hardest shot, fastest skater, accuracy shooting and breakaway relay.
Boston .. .0 2 2 -- 4
Washington 0 1 0 -- 1
First period--No scoring. Penalties--Hunter, Was (holding), 7:56; Byers, Bos (high-sticking), 11:57; Hatcher, Was (hooking), 13:08.
Second period--1, Boston, Pederson 5 (Arniel, Bourque), 2:33. Boston, Poulin 2 (Wesley), 4:31. 3, Washington, Hunter 22, 8:15. Penalties--Ruzicka, Bos (high-sticking), 13:20; Bourque, Bos (roughing), 15:04; Ciccarelli, Was (roughing), 15:04; May, Was (high-sticking), 16:27.
Third period--4, Boston, Oates 12 (Leach), 15:00. 5, Boston, Carpenter 22 (Oates, Wesley), 15:34. Penalties--Wiemer, Bos (tripping), 8:40; Murphy, Bos (roughing), 9:17; Sweeney, Bos, major-game misconduct (high-sticking), 9:17; Ciccarelli, Was (roughing), 9:17; Hatcher, Was, minor-major-game misconduct (roughing, slashing), 9:17.
Shots on goal--Boston 11-11-8--30. Washington 5-7-6--18. Power-play opportunities--Boston 0 of 4; Washington 0 of 3. Goalies--Boston, Moog, 24-17-6 (18 shots-17 saves). Washington, Beaupre, 23-13-4 (30-26). A--18,130. Referee--Denis Morel. Linesmen--Gord Broseker, Pierre Champoux.