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Capitals down Bruins, 2-1, in shootout in Chara’s return

Things got a little crispy in Zdeno Chara’s first game back at TD Garden as a visitor on Wednesday night as the Washington Capitals emerged with a, 2-1, shootout win over the Boston Bruins.

Vitek Vanecek (10-4-3, 2.69 goals against average, .910 save percentage in 18 games played) made 18 saves on 19 shots against for a .947 SV% in the shootout win for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (8-3-2, 2.57 GAA, .902 SV% in 13 games played) stopped 27 out of 28 shots faced for a .964 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 12-5-3 (27 points) on the season and remain in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 13-5-4 (30 points) overall and widened their division standings lead by two points over the New York Islanders.

Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Feb. 10th.

David Krejci was back in the lineup for Boston too for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury on Feb. 18th against the New Jersey Devils.

As a result, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup, including Grzelcyk and Krejci to their usual roles, as well as shuffling other forwards and defenders.

Cassidy left the first line intact, but slotted Craig Smith on Krejci’s right wing on the second line with Nick Ritchie in his usual role on the left side.

Jack Studnicka remained in the lineup– centering the third line with Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk on his wings, while Anders Bjork returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Sunday’s, 4-1, win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

Bjork was back in his left wing role on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly returning to center and Chris Wagner on the right wing.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, while Grzelcyk was reunited in his return to game action with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Jarred Tinordi made his Boston debut on the third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton on the right side.

The Bruins claimed Tinordi off waivers from the Nashville Predators on Saturday and he avoided a long time on the league’s COVID protocol list by driving from Nashville to Boston.

He’s also the first player in Bruins history to wear No. 84 and has 11 points (one goal, ten assists) in 88 career National Hockey League games for the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes and Predators since making his league debut as a 20-year-old in the 48-game lockout shortened 2012-13 season.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Burnsville, Minnesota native will provide added depth to Boston’s blue line– already depleted by injuries throughout the 2020-21 season thus far.

Charlie Coyle was added to the league’s COVID protocol list prior to Wednesday night’s action and missed his first game this season as a result.

Coyle was the first Bruin to miss a game due to COVID protocol since Karson Kuhlman missed the first game of the season in New Jersey on Jan. 14th, due to a testing issue dating back to Jan. 5th, when Cassidy revealed why Kuhlman was “unfit to participate” in the club’s training camp activities.

The B’s were also without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) on Wednesday against Washington.

Coyle, John Moore, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen and Callum Booth were all either in COVID protocol, a healthy scratch and/or taxi squad members for the B’s on Wednesday.

Kuhlman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Tuesday.

Wednesday night’s meeting with the Capitals also marked the first time that Chara returned to Boston as a member of the visiting team since March 16, 2006, when Chara was then a member of the Ottawa Senators defense.

Chara had one shot, two blocked shots and three hits in Ottawa’s, 3-2, shootout loss to the Bruins that night.

Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal for Boston, while Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette added goals for the Senators in the third period before Bergeron scored the only goal in the shootout.

The Bruins honored Chara with a tribute video that included well wishes from fans via Zoom.

Boston will not have fans at TD Garden until it is opened to about 12% capacity on March 22nd (with the first game featuring fans being a Bruins vs. Islanders matchup on March 23rd).

Fans will be able to give Chara an in-person standing ovation if everything goes according to plan on April 18th, when Washington returns to Boston after Friday’s game.

Early in the action, McAvoy was penalized for interference and presented the first power play of the night to the Capitals at 2:23 of the first period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, David Pastrnak rang the post (twice on the same shot attempt) on a breakaway after the Bruins killed off McAvoy’s minor infraction.

Midway through the opening frame, the Caps thought they scored when T.J. Oshie received a pass through the low slot and banked a shot off of Tinordi’s stick past Rask, but the B’s challenged the call on the ice on the basis that they believed Oshie had entered the attacking zone offside.

Video review confirmed that the puck was airborne and not yet over the blue line while Oshie was well past breaking the plane and therefore offside.

The call on the ice was reversed as the Bruins were successful on the coach’s challenge.

The score remained, 0-0.

Moments later, Krejci tripped Alex Ovechkin, but Washington’s power play was powerless on the ensuing advantage at 14:19 of the first period– in part because of Ovechkin’s interference minor at 14:36 that resulted in abbreviated 4-on-4 action before Boston saw a short power play thereafter.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, collided with McAvoy in the neutral zone away from the puck resulting in his trip to the penalty box, but not before catching his breath a moment in light of the awkward collision.

Less than a minute after Ovechkin was in the box, the Bruins recorded their first shot on goal in the game at 15:28.

Late in the period, Richard Panik caught Wagner away from the play and received an interference penalty at 19:49.

Boston’s resulting power play would extend into the second period as both teams entered the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite Washington holding a, 7-2, advantage in shots on goal.

The Caps also led in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (61-39), while the B’s held the advantage in giveaways (5-1) and hits (13-12).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play and would remain as such, despite Ovechkin and Frederic each receiving a minor penalty in the third period (they were matching).

There were no goals and no penalties called in the second period as the two teams remained locked in a, 0-0, tie through 40 minutes of action, despite the Capitals holding an, 11-9, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston actually held a, 7-4, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, but Washington dominated in blocked shots (10-4), takeaways (4-3), hits (25-21) and faceoff win% (64-36).

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in giveaways (6-4) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Brad Marchand fed Pastrnak (10) a pass that No. 88 in black and gold redirected through Vanecek’s five-hole to give the Bruins the game’s first goal and lead, 1-0, at 1:19 of the third period.

Marchand (14) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal.

Less than five minutes later, the Capitals tied the game, 1-1, after Kuraly turned the puck over in his own zone, whereby Oshie broke up the play and sent a pass to Nick Jensen.

Jensen threw the puck on goal for a rebound that Panik scooped up and flipped to Lars Eller (5) for the surefire odd-angle shot from the side of the net that sneaked between Rask’s leg pad and the post over the goal line.

Panik (5) and Jensen (7) tallied the assists on Eller’s goal at 6:14 of the third period.

Late in the action, after Frederic checked Ovechkin and the two exchanged pleasantries behind Boston’s net– leaving Frederic with his gloves on the ice and ready to fight, Ovechkin and Frederic got tangled up once again near the boards in Boston’s attacking zone.

This time, Frederic delivered a few quick cross checks in rapid succession followed by a swift spear below the belt from Ovechkin to the first-year Bruins forward.

Ovechkin received a roughing minor, while Frederic picked up a cross checking minor infraction at 14:30.

The two teams resumed full even strength after two minutes of 4-on-4 action unscathed.

Three periods was not enough to decide Wednesday night’s action as the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, heading into overtime.

After 60 minutes of play, the Caps led in shots on goal, 23-18, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-3) and hits (28-25), while Boston led in giveaways (7-6). Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win% and finished the night 0/2 on the power play as no penalties were called in the overtime period.

Caps head coach, Peter Laviolette, started Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy.

Washington dominated play in overtime, while Rask made a pair of great saves that quite literally saved the game for Boston (at least holding the team over until the shootout).

After the five-minute extra frame wasn’t enough with the game still tied, 1-1, and the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 5-1, advantage in shots on goal in the overtime period alone– a shootout was required.

Washington finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-9) and hits (28-26), while Boston wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in faceoff win% (53-48). Both teams had seven giveaways aside.

DeBrusk kicked off the shootout for Boston, but was denied by Vanecek with a glove save.

Jakub Vrana countered with a deke for the Capitals before pulling the puck around Rask’s right pad and slipping the rubber biscuit between the post and the Bruins netminder’s skate to give Washington the, 1-0, edge after one round of the shootout.

Pastrnak made a nifty move to send a backhanded attempt off of Vanecek’s pad while trying to go five-hole.

Oshie responded with a shot that Rask gloved.

The Capitals held a, 1-0, advantage in the shootout entering the third round. All Marchand had to do when he stepped up for his shot was score to force Rask to make another save and extend the shootout.

Instead, Vanecek denied Marchand with a glove save and the Caps didn’t even need to take their third shot– winning the shootout in three rounds and sealing the deal on a, 2-1, shootout win in Boston.

Washington improved to 2-2 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 2-1.

The Bruins are now 5-3 past regulation this season, while the Capitals are 3-4 overall after 60 minutes.

The B’s also fell to 4-2-1 (2-1-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 3-3-2 (0-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington improved to 6-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when tied after the first period and 3-1-4 (1-0-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Boston also fell to 8-2-1 (4-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Caps improved to 5-2-2 (2-1-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins and Capitals go at it again on Friday before Boston finishes up their three-game homestand on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.

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