But Boston's first loss to the Capitals came all the way back on March 29. It wasn't the 3-2 shootout loss that was costly for the Bruins that night, but the loss of defenseman Adam McQuaid after he was driven into the boards by Washington forward Jason Chimera.
McQuaid was originally believed to have suffered just a nasty cut around his eye from the hit, which drew a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for Chimera. But when McQuaid attempted to return after missing three games, he could not make it through the contest in Ottawa as symptoms of a concussion emerged. He missed the final game of the regular season and all seven games of the opening-round playoff series with that concussion.
"I'm feeling much better, almost feeling like myself again," McQuaid said during Friday's breakup day at the Garden when the concussion diagnosis was finally revealed. "I'm obviously happy about that, but certainly it was difficult watching.
"It's harder watching than it is playing because you feel kind of helpless," McQuaid added. "You have no control. You play all season to play in the playoffs. To not be able to was difficult, but obviously I wasn't feeling well enough to."
It was McQuaid's second concussion. The first occurred when he tripped over a suitcase in his Providence apartment after being sent down to play during the Olympic break in 2010. He also injured his neck twice with crashes into boards last year in the second round of the playoffs against Philadelphia and early this season in Carolina. McQuaid originally thought he may have injured the neck again this time, but when the symptoms emerged without any big hits or other incidents in Ottawa, McQuaid knew it was a head injury he could not try to play through.
"There was nothing in particular I could pinpoint," McQuaid said of the Ottawa game. "I just wasn't feeling as well as I thought I would. It was tough to tell the trainers, but I felt that I had to. We just looked into it further. It's not something you can play through. It's not smart to. Hopefully I can play for many more years. I didn't want to jeopardize that."
McQuaid is doing better now. He doesn't expect to have any problems being ready for next season.
"Originally I wasn't feeling too bad, but some symptoms came up," McQuaid said. "I feel much better than I was. I'll take care of myself this summer and there should be absolutely no issues here in a short period of time."
McQuaid may even have been able to return later in the postseason had the Bruins advanced.
"With the progression we were making all signs were pointing to that, at least to testing myself out," McQuaid said. "You never know how it would have went. The way things were progressing it was pointing toward at least working out and getting back on the ice, and you just go from there."
But the Bruins had to go through their only playoff round without both McQuaid and Nathan Horton, who was ruled out for the entire postseason after suffering a concussion of his own in January. Horton's injury came against the Flyers, who would have been Boston's second-round opponent if the Bruins had gotten past Washington.
Instead, the Bruins were without one of their most physical defensemen and a top power forward for a series where their presence could have made a major impact.
"We were challenged a little bit through injuries," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I thought losing Horts and McQuaid hurt our size and strength and hurt our balance up front. And, I honestly thought Horts would've been back but it's obvious there were some serious implications with that injury."
Despite his lengthy absence, Chiarelli is optimistic that Horton will also be ready to return for the start of next season.
"I expect both to make a full recovery," Chiarelli said. "I met with Horts and he was good and said he's feeling a lot better and looking forward to next year. And Adam, by tracking his progress in the playoffs, he was coming around and I expect a full recovery."
The Bruins should be at full strength to start the next campaign, but that's not a lot of consolation for the early end to this year's run.