A strong dislike between the Bruins and Washington Capitals developed into a burning hatred at the Garden on Friday night.
After the two teams played a contentious game on Wednesday night, Capitals’ noted loose cannon Tom Wilson upped the ante at 18:30 of the first period, lining up Brandon Carlo for a dangerous head shot heard ’round the league, though somehow not seen by the officials working the game.
After Carlo was lost for the game and for who knows how long, the B’s played inspired hockey while it looked as if the Caps finished out the night in sheepish embarrassment, taking a 5-1 beating as Wilson had to fight both Jarred Tinordi and Trent Frederic.
The question is, can the league handle another four more games and possible playoff series between these two teams?
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the first period that ended up with them steaming mad and down another key defenseman.
The Caps had the edge in play but, like Tuukka Rask did on Wednesday, Jaroslav Halak came up with a couple of big saves, both on Lars Eller to keep the game scoreless until 14:21.
That’s when Patrice Bergeron somehow lost Washington defenseman Justin Schultz on a tight circle move on the left side of the net and shoved a pass intended for David Pastrnak in the low slot. It went through Pastrnak but the puck went to Brad Marchand. He made a pretty backhand move and lifted it over goalie Vitek Vanecek.
But late in the period, Wilson did some Tom Wilson things. Perhaps he was responding to Frederic’s rough treatment of Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday, but the Caps wing tried to line up Frederic in the neutral zone and did not make good contact with the rookie along the boards.
His blood lust unquenched, Wilson kept on hunting. As Carlo battled for a puck behind the Bruins’ net, Wilson delivered a blow to the defenseman, whose head took the brunt of the entire hit against the glass. Carlo, who had suffered a concussion his rookie season on an Ovechkin hit, was down for a long time as trainer Don Del Negro attended to him before he was able to skate off with a little assistance.
Throughout the stoppage, the B’s bench was hollering at referees Pierre Lambert and Dean Morton. We could not make out all the words all the way up on the ninth floor, but it was a slew of obscenities.
Stunningly, nothing was called on Wilson. One would think that with the way things went on Wednesday between the two teams, the refs would be on high alert for such shenanigans. But nothing. The B’s had to take care of it themselves.
Eventually, at the 6:22 mark of the second, Tinordi tapped Wilson’s pads and the two heavyweights went at it, both throwing big shots but landing mostly glancing blows.
With that behind them, the B’s went to work on the scoreboard. And by the time Wilson and Tinordi left their respective boxes, it was 4-0.
Just 21 seconds after the fight, Frederic gave the B’s a 2-0 lead. From behind the Washington net, Frederic sent a long pass out to Charlie McAvoy and slipped out on the left side of the net to redirect home McAvoy’s return pass.
At 9:01, Bergeron finished off a tic-tac-toe play with Pastrnak setting him up with an open net.
Finally, at 14:58, Matt Grzelcyk, who played very well in his second game back after being out for three weeks with a lower body injury, connected with Marchand for an easy tap-in goal after another dominant shift from the top line.
Nick Ritchie added another one early in the third and then Frederic would not let Wilson take no for answer, taking the extra two-and-10 for the instigator. No matter. The Caps were not about to mount a comeback in this one.