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“I mean, we don’t like to see our top line fight, give in to stuff like that, so it’s one of those things where you’ve got to stick up for your teammates,” said McQuaid, who ultimately fought Hendricks. “I saw Thorty challenging him … and he looked like he didn’t want to go with Thorty so I gave him a second option, and I guess he didn’t want Thorty, so he made a smart decision going to me.”

Two Bruins players instigating Hendricks didn’t sit well with the Caps. Oates called it “wrong” and wished the officials would have intervened earlier.

“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen, in my opinion,” Alzner said. “The fact that they let those guys corner a guy like that. For all they know Hendy had a broken hand and he can’t fight. If we would’ve done that to [Bruins star Tyler] Seguin, you know, [John Erskine] and Hendy? You think they would’ve let that happen? It’s questionable, very questionable.”

Hendricks appeared to suffer a right hand injury and did not play the rest of the game after fighting McQuaid. Oates had no update on the forward’s condition.

Neither Hendricks nor Ribeiro were made available to speak to reporters. A team spokesman said each player was getting medical treatment.

Asked what the Caps could do to respond to the Bruins’ antics with Hendricks, Alzner said: “Go after one of their guys. I guess that’s the only thing you can do. We’re probably not going to do that because we’re not that kind of team. But that’s the only thing you can do.”

No Caps player fought with McQuaid or Thornton in the game’s final minutes. Doing so in the final five minutes of a game like this could have led to a suspension and/or fine.

Ideally Washington would have preferred to answer in different ways.

“Play better than them,” defenseman John Carlson said. “Try to drag them into penalties if they’re going to try to do that. I thought there might have been a few times that we could have got a little luckier with penalties when they’re going to push the envelope like that and toe that line.”

Toeing the line and playing on edge is exactly what the Bruins want to do. They improved to 41-15-2 over the past two seasons in a game that included at least one fight.

It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between the Caps and Bruins, dating to last season’s chippy, seven-game playoff series and a March 5 game at Verizon Center that Boston lost in overtime after blowing a 3-0 lead.

“There’s a little bit that carried over from the playoffs last year, and what happened our first game this year we wanted a better game,” McQuaid said. “I thought we played with a little bit more emotion.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien noted the Caps’ emotion led to a lot of the chippiness. “They’re fighting for their lives, trying to get themselves into a playoff spot,” he said.

But there wasn’t enough of a response from the Caps on Saturday afternoon when the Bruins ran roughshod over them. Oates couldn’t fault goaltender Michal Neuvirth for much, pointing to defensive blunders as the reason his team fell behind.

And when the Bruins took part in some of what left wing Aaron Volpatti called “headlocks and all that stuff after the whistle,” the Caps let it get to them and likely hurt their chances of making a push.

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