Tuukka Rask is now the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins franchise history as a result of Boston’s 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
Rask eclipses Tiny Thompson‘s previous record of 252 career wins in a Bruins sweater with his 253rd victory as a Boston netminder with the shutout and improved to 2-11-5 in his career against the Capitals.
David Krejci had the game’s only goal in the second period to help launch the B’s out of their 0-11-3 record in their last 14 games against the Caps entering Sunday, snapping one of the longest losing streaks to a team in the regular season (tied with Boston’s 14 consecutive wins against the Arizona Coyotes).
Arizona (then known as the Phoenix Coyotes) last beat Boston on October 9, 2010 in a 5-2 win in a game that was played in Prague, Czech Republic.
Rask (15-8-4 record, 2.35 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 28 games played) turned aside all 24 shots he faced for his 43rd career shutout in the win.
Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby (18-13-3, 3.04 GAA, .907 SV% in 37 GP) made 38 saves on 39 shots against for a .974 SV% in the loss and fell to 16-3-0 in his career against the Bruins.
Boston improved to 28-17-7 (63 points) on the season and moved up to 3rd place in the Atlantic Division standings, while Washington fell to 28-18-6 (62 points) and dropped to 3rd in the Metropolitan Division– tied in points for 2nd with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but trailing in the regulation-plus-overtime wins tiebreaker (PIT, 27, WSH, 25).
The Caps defeated the Bruins in their season series, 2-1-0, as both teams played their final regular season matchup on Sunday. The B’s are 1-0-0 to begin February after finishing 6-3-3 in the month of January.
Bruce Cassidy made some adjustments to his lineup stemming from Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, replacing Danton Heinen with Joakim Nordstrom to the left side of Trent Frederic and David Backes, while re-inserting Noel Acciari back into the lineup with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.
Washington’s Dmitrij Jaskin kicked things off on the scoresheet with the game’s first minor penalty– an infraction for hooking Krejci– at 5:30 of the first period.
Boston failed to record a shot on goal on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon, but the Capitals followed up killing off Jaskin’s minor with another infraction just seven seconds later as Evgeny Kuznetsov was penalized for slashing McAvoy at 7:37.
The Bruins got some shots on goal on the power play, but did not score.
Shortly after time expired on Boston’s second power play of the afternoon, Bergeron– taking part in his 999th career regular season game on Sunday– was penalized for holding Kuznetsov at 9:52 and the Capitals went on the skater advantage for the first time in the game.
The Caps did not convert on their special teams play.
Both teams entered the dressing room for the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard and in blocked shots (3-3), as well as hits (8-8).
Meanwhile, Boston held the advantage in shots on goal (15-6) and face-off win percentage (65-35) after one period, while Washington led in takeaways (6-3) and giveaways (7-1).
The Capitals were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play prior to the start of the 2nd period.
Almost midway through the second frame, Miller cross-checked Andre Burakovsky and cut a rut to the penalty box for the ensuing Washington power play, but the Caps didn’t convert on Miller’s minor at 8:24 of the second period.
Almost 20 seconds after killing off the penalty, the Bruins capitalized on the vulnerable minute after special teams play with some spectacular puck movement from David Pastrnak to Krug, then over to Krejci (11) for the one-timer goal as Holtby was forced to play catch up in the crease.
Krejci’s goal was assisted by Krug (30) and Pastrnak (32) at 10:43 of the second period and gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, on the game’s only goal.
The goal came while Cassidy was switching up his line combinations mid-game with Pastrnak taking a few shifts on the ice alongside Krejci and DeBrusk before returning to the right side of Brad Marchand and Bergeron.
Heading into the second intermission, the Bruins were 17-4-5 when scoring first this season– including a 1-2-3 span in the last six consecutive games in which they’ve scored the game’s first goal– and 18-2-0 when leading after 40 minutes of play.
One more strong indication of Boston’s play on Sunday afternoon prior to the third period?
The B’s led in shots on goal (30-13) after two periods (including 15-7 in the second period alone), as well as blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (9-8) and face-off win% (55-45).
Washington led in giveaways (11-6) and hits (28-17) heading into the third period, while both teams went 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
McAvoy hooked T.J. Oshie at 12:30 of the third period, but the ensuing power play for Washington was short-lived.
Oshie hooked Chara at 13:06, forcing 4-on-4 action for over a minute before the Bruins would have an abbreviated power play chance.
Despite an onslaught of shots on goal, Rask stood tall facing immense pressure from a Capitals team that is star-studded with offensive depth in its lineup.
With 1:27 remaining in regulation, Todd Reirden pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but Washington couldn’t pull off a comeback as the Boston defense tightened its game.
To everyone’s surprise, neither Reirden nor Cassidy used their timeout after the Bruins iced the puck with 14.1 seconds remaining in the game.
At the final horn, the B’s had defeated the Caps, 1-0, and snapped their 14-game losing streak against Washington in their last 14 regular season meetings.
Boston finished the day leading in shots on goal (39-24), blocked shots (15-9) and face-off win% (64-37), despite Washington dominating shots on goal in the third period alone (11-9).
The Capitals finished the afternoon leading in giveaways (15-14) and hits (41-27), while both teams went 0/3 on the power play on Sunday.
Rask secured his place in Bruins franchise history as the winningest goaltender in a Boston sweater with his 253rd career win, surpassing Cecil “Tiny” Thompson’s 252 wins with the B’s that he set 80 years ago as Boston improved to 19-2-0 this season when leading after two periods.
The Bruins are also 18-4-5 when scoring first in a game this season, improving to 2-2-3 in doing so in their last seven games.
Pending a lineup change, Bergeron is set to take part in his 1,000th career regular season game as Boston heads home to take on the New York Islanders on Tuesday at TD Garden, prior to traveling to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
The B’s return home after Wednesday night’s nationally televised game for a three-game homestand starting next Saturday (Feb. 9th) against the Los Angeles Kings, facing the Colorado Avalanche next Sunday (Feb. 10th) and concluding against the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic rematch on Feb. 12th.