BOSTON -- The Washington Capitals should have won it in the first period, when they jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
Just ask the Boston Bruins' fans.
Normally you cannot tell whether they are hailing Boston goaltender Andy Moog, or booing him. At that point, there was no doubt their chant started with a "B" and not an "M."
Washington then should have won it in the second period, dominating play for the first 15 minutes.
The Bruins should not have been celebrating two minutes into sudden-death overtime, when center Vladimir "Rosie" Ruzicka slapped the puck past Capitals goalie Jim Hrivnak to give Boston an unlikely 5-4 victory.
Just ask Capitals coach Terry Murray, whose team's seven-game winning streak ended.
"If you lead 3-1, you shouldn't lose," Murray said. "We had a lot of chances. In the second period, I thought we controlled it completely."
Just ask Washington defenseman Al Iafrate.
"I thought we outplayed them," Iafrate said. "In the third period, we had a lot more scoring chances than them. Their goalie came up with some big saves."
Moog, playing in his first game in more than three weeks, rebounded from his poor start to come up with game-saving stops in the third period on Iafrate, Peter Bondra and Kelly Miller. He was given a second chance in this game when the Bruins erased a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 tie after the first period.
Bobby Carpenter gave the lead back to the Capitals early in the second period, following up Bondra's attempted wraparound and poking the puck past Moog to make it 4-3.
Washington spent the better part of the next 10 minutes creating opportunity and having it handed to them in front of the Bruins goal but not capitalizing on it.
Late in the second period, Boston's C. J. Young tied the score at 4. Assists went to Ruzicka and Joe Juneau, who set up the goal with a sprint from the Bruins zone.
"If we could have come out of the second period ahead, instead of tied, I think it might have been different," Miller said. "It came down to who was going to find the bounce, and, unfortunately, they got it."
Both teams missed their share of opportunities in the third period. Besides Moog, the Capitals were hindered by their power play, which had been crucial to their recent success.
They were 0-for-4 yesterday. Washington was left playing defense midway through the third period, even though it was Cam Neely, and not a Washington Capital, sitting in the penalty box.
Neely got a goal in his second consecutive game in a first period that quickly deteriorated.
That started out working in favor of the Capitals, who, after watching the Bruins jump out to a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game, scored three unanswered goals.
Dimitri Khristich found himself alone in front of Moog with the leftovers from an Al Iafrate shot and promptly tied the score at one.
Four minutes later, Washington took the lead when defenseman Paul Cavallini unloaded, first finding the crossbar and then being rewarded when the puck bounced past Moog. Mike Ridley made it 3-1 25 seconds later.
The Bruins were visibly frustrated with themselves, and the crowd audibly so with Moog. But the mood changed quickly when, working on the power play after Calle Johansson was called for slashing, Neely put his stick on a Ray Bourque shot that squeezed through Hrivnak's legs.