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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Marchand lifts Bruins over Capitals, 4-3, in OT, ties series 1-1

Taylor Hall never gave up and tied the game late in the third period, while Brad Marchand ended it 39 seconds into overtime as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 2 at Capital One Arena on Monday.

It was the fastest goal to start a Stanley Cup Playoffs overtime in franchise history– beating Bobby Orr’s iconic 1970 Stanley Cup winning overtime goal by one second– as the Bruins tied the series 1-1 heading back home for Game 3 on Wednesday.

Tuukka Rask (1-1, 2.86 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in two games played) made 36 saves on 39 shots against in the win.

Meanwhile, Capitals netminder, Craig Anderson (1-1, 2.65 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in two games played) stopped 44 out of 48 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jeremy Lauzon (upper body) on Monday.

With Lauzon as the newest entry on Boston’s list of injured players, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing with Kevan Miller.

Among his forwards, Cassidy moved Charlie Coyle back to centering the third line– flanked by Nick Ritchie at left wing and Jake DeBrusk at right wing– while Sean Kuraly was slotted into the fourth line left wing spot with Curtis Lazar at center and Chris Wagner on the right side.

At puck drop, Patrice Bergeron moved into sole possession of the second-most playoff games in a Bruins uniform– suiting up in his 151st career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Monday night and passing former Bruin, turned current Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, in the process.

David Krejci (146) also surpassed Wayne Cashman (145) for sole possession of the fourth-most postseason games with Boston.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, injured players and taxi squad members included Trent Frederic, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Early in the opening frame, DeBrusk (2) pocketed a catch and release goal while choking up on his stick as Anderson was out of position on a scramble from the doorstep after Coyle wrapped around the net.

Coyle (1) and Ritchie (1) had the assists on DeBrusk’s second goal in as many games this postseason and the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 5:05 of the first period.

About a minute later, David Pastrnak was penalized for holding and presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 6:19.

Washington made quick work of the resulting skater advantage as T.J. Oshie (1) tipped in a shot from Alex Ovechkin on the short side to tie the game, 1-1 at 6:31.

Ovechkin (2) and John Carlson (1) tallied the assists on Oshie’s power-play goal.

Almost three minutes later, Bergeron (1) one-timed a shot from the high slot in his usual bumper role after Pastrnak leapt to keep the puck onside, then generate the scoring chance by feeding his captain the puck for the goal.

Pastrnak (2) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal as the Bruins took the lead, 2-1, at 9:21.

Moments later, Nic Dowd tangled with Krejci and presented Boston with another power play as Dowd cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing at 12:46.

The B’s didn’t get that much time on the skater advantage before the 5-on-4 was cut short thanks to a roughing minor that was assessed to Marchand at 13:54, after the Bruins forward retaliated for being pinned by a knee after a stoppage.

After 52 seconds of 4-on-4 action, Washington went on an abbreviated power play and capitalized on the skater advantage as Garnet Hathaway (1) redirected a shot that had eyes through Rask’s five-hole with a heavy net front presence from both teams creating traffic in the slot.

Dmitry Orlov (1) and Lars Eller (1) were credited with the assists on Hathaway’s tying goal at 16:42 as the Caps evened things up, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Late in the opening frame, Mike Reilly and Conor Sheary exchanged words and shoves and were sent to the box with roughing minors– necessitating 4-on-4 play at 19:50 of the first period and extending into the middle frame.

After one period of action Monday night, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard and knotted up in shots on goal, as well, 18-18.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (7-3), takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Washington led in giveaways (2-1) and hits (18-14) heading into the first intermission.

The Caps were 1/2 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Carlson tripped Hall to present the Bruins with a power play at 6:22 of the second period, but Boston was powerless on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Eller was spotted heading down the tunnel and did not return to the night’s action.

Midway through the middle frame, Clifton and Tom Wilson got caught up in an open ice hit away from the puck.

Clifton was assessed an interference minor, while Wilson picked up two minutes for embellishment at 13:31. The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 as a result.

It remained 4-on-4 when less than a minute later, Marchand and Anthony Mantha went at it after Anderson froze the puck at 14:11.

Marchand was assessed a slashing infraction, while Mantha picked up a high sticking minor.

Just as both squads resumed full strength at 5-on-5, Craig Smith and Nick Jensen could resist letting go of one another in a net front battle, yielding roughing minors for the two of them at 16:54.

Through 40 minutes of play at Capital One Arena, the score remained tied, 2-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 33-27, including a, 15-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (62-38), while Washington led in hits (28-17).

Both teams had three giveaways each as the B’s were 0/2 and the Caps were 1/2 on the power play after two periods.

Early in the final frame, Ritchie inadvertently clotheslined Oshie behind the net while battling for a loose puck along the endboards.

Ritchie cut a rut to the sin bin for roughing at 2:05 of the third period as the Capitals went on the power play.

Washington couldn’t muster anything past Boston’s penalty kill, however, and still couldn’t do anything when the B’s gifted the Caps another power play at 4:53 as Hall tripped Sheary.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, however, the Capitals went to work on a 2-on-1 while catching Boston’s defense out of position, whereby Orlov was able to setup Hathaway (2) for his second goal of the night on a catch and release effort at 7:04 of the third period.

Orlov (2) and Carl Hagelin (1) notched the assists on Hathaway’s second goal as Washington took their first lead of the night, 3-2, almost midway through the final frame of regulation.

About ten minutes later, Hall (1) kept plugging away at a loose puck in the crease before sliding it over the goal line while chaos surrounded him and everyone hacked and whiffed at the rubber biscuit in the blue paint.

Smith (1) and Matt Grzelcyk (1) had the assists as Hall’s goal tied the game, 3-3, at 17:11.

Boston rode the momentum surge of tying the game late in the final minutes of regulation and entered the dressing room after 60 minutes with the lead in shots on goal, 46-39, including a, 13-12, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins also led in takeaways (9-6) and faceoff win% (63-38), while the Capitals held the advantage in blocked shots (19-15) and hits (35-30).

Both teams had four giveaways, while the Caps were 1/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the extra frame.

It didn’t take long before Krejci intercepted a clearing attempt from Brenden Dillon and passed the puck across the point to Grzelcyk, whereby the Bruins defender tossed it back across the high slot to Marchand (1) for the one-timer blast from the faceoff dot over Anderson’s glove side as the Washington goaltender dove across the crease.

Grzelcyk (2) and Krejci (1) tallied the assists on Marchand’s game-winning goal 39 seconds into the overtime period and the Bruins took home a, 4-3, victory in Game 2 as a result.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 48-39, including a, 1-0, advantage in overtime alone.

The B’s wrapped up Game 2 leading in faceoff win% (63-37), while the Capitals led in blocked shots (19-15), giveaways (7-4) and hits (36-30).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, Washington finished 1/4 and Boston went 0/2 on the power play on Monday night.

Monday night also marked the 11th-straight postseason game decided by one-goal between the two clubs dating back to their 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series– the longest such streak in National Hockey League history.

As a result of their overtime win in Game 2, the Bruins have tied the series 1-1 heading home to TD Garden for Game 3 on Wednesday night in Boston. Puck drop is expected a little after 6:30 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can catch national coverage of the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can tune to SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360 or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Caps snag, 3-2, overtime win in Game 1 over Bruins

Nic Dowd redirected T.J. Oshie’s blast early in overtime to give Craig Anderson a, 3-2, win in relief and the Washington Capitals a 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Capital One Arena in Game 1 of their 2021 First Round series.

Anderson (1-0, 1.15 goals-against average, .955 save percentage in one game played) made 21 saves on 22 shots faced in the overtime win after replacing injured Capitals goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, in the first period.

He’ll turn 40-years-old on May 21st and became the oldest goaltender to earn a Stanley Cup Playoffs win in Capitals history (39 years, 359 days old), surpassing Mike Liut’s previous record (34 years, 110 days).

Vanecek (0-0, 4.62 goals-against average, .750 save percentage in one game played) had three saves on four shots his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut prior to suffering a lower body injury at 13:10 of the first period and leaving the game.

Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (0-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in one game played), stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins and Capitals are meeting for the fourth time in a postseason series. Washington holds the all time series advantage, 2-1, having beaten Boston in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The B’s swept the Caps in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

Boston made the playoffs for the 74th time in franchise history, while finishing 3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division.

Meanwhile, Washington entered the postseason for the 31st time in club history and has home ice advantage in the series by virtue of finishing 2nd in the same division.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) in Game 1.

Kase is not yet ready to return to the lineup, while Moore is out for the rest of the season and playoffs after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd. Moore’s expected recovery time is five to six months.

Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, was back in the lineup after missing the last four games of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, didn’t do much out of the ordinary with his lines as captain, Patrice Bergeron, centered the first line with his usual partners in crime, Brad Marchand at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing.

David Krejci centered the second line with Taylor Hall to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Nick Ritchie and Coyle on his wings.

Rounding out the bottom-six forwards, Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner were slotted alongside Curtis Lazar.

Bergeron tied Zdeno Chara for the second-most appearances in a playoff game in a Bruins uniform– having participated in his 150th career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Saturday night.

Krejci, meanwhile, surpassed Wayne Cashman for sole possession of the fourth-most playoff games in the spoked-B, skating in his 146th career postseason game on Saturday.

On defense, Cassidy started the night with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, Mike Reilly suited up with Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon alongside Kevan Miller.

Reilly made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Trent Frederic, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Jaroslav Halak, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar.

Washington, meanwhile, was without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who remained in COVID protocol ahead of Game 1.

Tom Wilson (1) scored the game’s first goal and opened the scoring in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a give-and-go play that led to a far side shot over Rask and into the twine to make it, 1-0.

Oshie (1) and Daniel Sprong (1) had the assists on Wilson’s goal at 6:22 of the first period as the Capitals capitalized on a shattered stick by McAvoy in Boston’s attacking zone that led to the breakout and ensuing goal.

Almost 90 seconds later, John Carlson sent the puck over the glass and yielded an automatic delay of game minor infraction at 7:58, presenting the Bruins with the night’s first power play as a result.

Boston was powerless on the skater advantage, however.

Moments later, DeBrusk (1) scored from the edge of the faceoff dot to the left of Vanecek after an attacking zone draw was won by Lazar back to the B’s winger for a quick shot to tie the game, 1-1, at 13:10.

Lazar (1) had the only assist while Vanecek sustained a lower body injury on the play and promptly left the game with the assistance of a Capitals trainer.

Anderson replaced Vanecek in his first playoff appearance since 2017, when the Ottawa Senators lost, 4-2, in double overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

The Bruins did not put Anderson to the test nearly enough for the remainder of the action.

Justin Schultz tripped Hall at 16:42 and presented Boston with another power play before the first period came to a close, but the B’s weren’t able to muster anything on the advantage and entered the first intermission tied on the scoreboard, 1-1.

Washington led in shots on goal, 11-7, after 20 minutes and held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (81-19).

The Bruins were 0/2 on the power play while the Capitals had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Entering the second period Washington tweeted that Vanecek would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury. If necessary, Pheonix Copley would be available as the emergency goaltender for the Caps.

Midway through the middle frame, Brenden Dillon (1) blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lauzon’s stick and into the back of the twine– giving the Capitals a, 2-1, lead at 8:44 of the second period in the process.

Anthony Mantha (1) and Alex Ovechkin (1) tallied the assists on Dillon’s goal.

Ovechkin later cross checked Miller, but Lauzon retaliated with a cross check on Ovechkin and was the only player that was penalized at 9:01 of the second period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the period, Dmitry Orlov caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:21.

Boston capitalized on the resulting skater advantage when Pastrnak wired a shot off of Ritchie’s (1) shaft in front of the net– deflecting the puck through Anderson and just over the goal line.

Pastrnak (1) and McAvoy (1) had the assists on Ritchie’s power-play goal, tying the game, 2-2, in the process at 16:40.

Through 40 minutes of play, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 22-16, including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (62-38), while the Caps led in giveaways (4-3) and hits (31-30).

Both teams had four takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals in the final frame of regulation and only one penalty as Michael Raffl tripped Hall with a knee-on-knee swipe (inadvertent or not, it was a penalty) at 5:06 of the third period.

After 60 minutes, the Capitals led in shots on goal, 31-24, including a, 9-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington held the advantage in hits (51-40), while Boston led in blocked shots (18-12), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (59-41). Both teams had six takeaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Capitals finished 0/1 and the Bruins finished 1/4 on the power play.

Early in the extra frame, Washington got a break whereby Oshie let go of a one-timer that Dowd (1) deflected off of Rask and in for the game-winning goal at 4:41 of the overtime period.

Oshie (2) and Wilson (1) had the assists on Dowd’s goal as the Capitals secured a, 3-2, victory in overtime in Game 1.

Washington finished Saturday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 32-26, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 2-1, in overtime alone.

The Caps also wrapped up Game 1 with the advantage in hits (51-41), while the Bruins finished the game leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (60-40).

The Bruins fell to 0-1 when tied after the first period, 0-1 when allowing the game’s first goal and 0-1 when tied after the second period this postseason, while the Capitals improved to 1-0 when tied after the first, scoring the game’s first goal and tied after two periods in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington leads the series 1-0 and looks to go up by two games on Monday night in Game 2. Puck drop in Washington is set for a little after 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while viewers in Canada have the option to choose from SN, CBC or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: MassMutual NHL East Division

Sometime in the last however many days (or perhaps years, maybe even centuries, for some, as it felt) the calendar went from reading “March 2020” to “March 2021”, then April and now May.

Between then and now, the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup champions in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final over the Dallas Stars in six games after last year’s playoffs were held inside a bubble (well, technically two bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto before coming together in the former).

Then a somewhat regular-looking 56-game 2020-21 season took place as the National Hockey League and the rest of the world started returning to a sense of normalcy from January through now– getting vaccinated and seeing the light at the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.

Resiliency in life cannot be understated.

That– even after so much loss and millions of deaths around the world– the course of nature goes on.

There is still a lot of grieving to be done, a pandemic ongoing and tensions rising around the globe, yet here we are, arguing over who will win one game– the next four games, a series– the Stanley Cup.

We, as hockey fans, have regressed to the mean. Our veins are pulsing as we hit “tweet” arguing between Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens fans for the first time since 1979.

Our humanity goes on.

Make no qualms about it, the 2020-21 season was one of the hardest seasons on all of the players in the NHL.

Their seemingly lavish lifestyles were disrupted by isolation on road trips, isolation in COVID protocol and isolation from so many family members and friends that may not have been able to go see them play or be around at home due to local rules, regulations or the mere fact that a player is single and living on their own.

No, there are no heroes. Only people.

Even hockey players.

As the dawn of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs arises, we’ll call their clutch goals, big hits and key saves “heroic”, but after all, we’re just watching 10 skaters and two goalies on the ice at any given time play a game at the highest level that so few are ever so privileged to play.

They’re making memories among their teammates on the ice that we’ll never be able to experience.

We’ll never be able to see it from their eyes– until, at least, nano camera technology that can be worn in a contact lens becomes mainstream in sports anyway– but we’ll watch the game with our own eyes and try to memorize every little detail of a play as we try to recreate it in driveways, streets and ice rinks in our own town or others.

It’s time.

Let’s hockey together, friends.


Four teams in each division made the postseason.

The best team facing the fourth best team, the second best team taking on the third best team– the winners of the First Round will face each other in the Second Round staying within their own division as they’ve done through 56 regular season games.

Each division will produce one winner heading to the Stanley Cup Semifinal in light of a Conference Finals round in usual years.

The Semifinal will reseed based on how the four remaining teams finished in regular season points standings with the first best team taking on the fourth, as well as the second best team facing the third best team in a series narrowing down the field to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finalists as a result.

Neither the Prince of Wales Trophy nor the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl will be awarded this year.

No trophies, just vibes (until the Stanley Cup, that is).


(1) Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-3, 77 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are facing each other for the sixth time in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the Islanders holding the lead in all time series wins, 4-1.

New York beat Pittsburgh in seven games (4-3) in the 1975 Wales Conference Quarterfinal, in five games (3-2) in the 1982 Patrick Division Semifinal, in seven games (4-3) in the 1993 Patrick Division Final and in four games (4-0) in the 2019 First Round.

The Penguins beat the Islanders in six games (4-2) in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quaterfinal, meanwhile.

The Pens are making their 36th postseason appearance, while the Isles enter their 27th postseason in franchise history.

Pittsburgh was led by Sidney Crosby (24-38–62 totals in 55 games played) in the regular season, with Jake Guentzel (23-34–57 totals in 56 GP) and Kris Letang (7-38–45 totals in 55 GP) rounding out the top-three scorers on the Penguins’ roster in 2020-21.

Crosby and the Pens cruised to an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and an impressive 22-4-2 record on home ice this season, which bodes well for their return to the playoffs after missing out on First Round action last season thanks to an early exit on behalf of the Canadiens in four games (3-1) in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier.

Among active members of the current roster, Crosby leads the Penguins with 68-121–189 totals in 168 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Evgeni Malkin– suffering from a lower body injury as of late– has 63-106–169 totals in 166 career postseason games.

Letang brings up the rear to round-out the top-three playoff performers currently on the roster with 80 points (21 goals, 59 assists) in 136 playoff games.

In the regular season, Pittsburgh relied on Tristan Jarry for a 25-9-3 record as a starter in 39 games played (38 starts) and two shutouts, as well as a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Casey DeSmith (11-7-0 in 20 games, 17 starts, 2.54 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, two shutouts) served as Jarry’s backup and even Maxime Lagacé made an appearance, recording a win in his only start, as well as a shutout.

When it comes to playoff experience, only Jarry has ever touched the ice in a Stanley Cup Playoff game– earning one start in a loss, as well as a 1.02 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.

At the other end of the rink, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal in scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 55 games, as Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games) trailed the prolific 23-year-old center with the second-most points on the team in the 2020-21 regular season.

Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) were tied for the third-most points in team scoring for New York.

Isles captain, Anders Lee, had his season cut short by a knee injury that will keep him out of contention through the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Islanders went 3-4-3 in their last 10 games as they backed themselves into the postseason.

Among active players on New York’s current roster, Bailey leads his teammates in postseason scoring with 10-27–37 totals in 52 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Nelson (16-13–29 in 48 games) and newcomer, Travis Zajac (11-17–28 totals in 57 games) round out the top-three playoff performers entering the Islanders’ 2021 postseason run.

Zajac was acquired along with Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils ahead of the 2021 trade deadline back in April.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way for the Islanders with a Vezina Trophy worthy season, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games played (35 starts) to go with seven shutouts, a 2.04 goals-against average a .929 save percentage.

Varlamov and Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, led the league in shutouts in 2020-21, while Vegas Golden Knights duo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner took home the William M. Jennings Trophy, having allowed the fewest goals against this season.

Meanwhile, Ilya Sorokin served as Varlamov’s backup in his first NHL season and had a 13-6-3 record in 22 games played (21 starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.17 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

As Sorokin just completed his first season at the game’s highest level of competition, only Varlamov has had postseason experience and is expected to be New York’s starter in their 2021 First Round matchup with Pittsburgh.

Varlamov has a 24-20 record in 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (44 starts), as well as four shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.


The Penguins went 6-2-0, while the Islanders went 2-4-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Pittsburgh outscoring New York, 26-19, in that span.

That alone should give a good indication of how Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, is back on his regular routine and how Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, will need to get crafty to drag Pittsburgh’s offense down a bit more to the level of New York’s “defense first” mentality.

Though it might be easier to slow down Crosby’s game than it is to ease Edmonton Oilers phenom, Connor McDavid, from his carousel around opponents, Pittsburgh has a deeper roster than New York’s stagnant core.

Jeff Carter alone has made a bigger impact on the Pens so far than Palmieri and Zajac combined for the Islanders.

That said, New York has the historical high ground over the Penguins in the playoffs– especially in light of their 2019 First Round sweep.

This time around, however, expect Pittsburgh to get the job done in six games– just long enough to get a rhythm going into an epic clash with either the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Second Round.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6th

4-3 F/SO PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 11th

4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 18th

3-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 20th

4-3 F/OT PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 27th

2-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 28th

6-3 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 27th

2-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 29th

Schedule:

5/16- Game 1 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/18- Game 2 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/20- Game 3 PIT @ NYI 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

5/22- Game 4 PIT @ NYI 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/24- Game 5 NYI @ PIT*

5/26- Game 6 PIT @ NYI*

5/28- Game 7 NYI @ PIT*

*If necessary

(2) Washington Capitals (36-15-5, 77 points) vs (3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points)

Washington: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

Boston: 56 games played, .652 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are meeting each other in a playoff series for the fourth time with the Capitals holding the lead in all time series wins, 2-1.

Washington beat Boston in six games (4-2) in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and in seven games (4-3) in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.

Prior to the last two postseason series meetings between the two clubs, the Bruins swept the Capitals (4-0) in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

The Caps are making their 31st appearance, while the B’s are set to embark on their 74th appearance in the postseason in franchise history.

Washington was led by Nicklas Backstrom (15-38–53 totals in 55 games played) in scoring this season, while John Carlson had the second-most points and T.J. Oshie rounded out the top-three in team scoring.

Carlson had 44 points (10 goals, 34 assists) in 52 games, while Oshie notched 22-21–43 totals in 53 games for the Capitals in 2020-21.

While battling injury at times this season, Washington captain, Alex Ovechkin, and Co. went 7-2-1 in their last 10 games of the regular season, amassing a 17-8-3 record on home ice.

Ovechkin leads his current teammates in active career postseason scoring with 69-62–131 totals in 136 Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with the Capitals), while Backstrom is second and former Bruin captain, turned Washington defender, Zdeno Chara, has the third-most career Stanley Cup Playoff points on the Capitals’ current roster.

Backstrom has 107 points (36 goals, 71 assists) in 128 career playoff games, while Chara has 18-52–70 totals in 195 career postseason games between the Ottawa Senators (45 games) and Boston (150 games).

In the regular season, Washington relied on the emergence of Vitek Vanecek as their starter with Ilya Samsonov serving as the Caps backup and Craig Anderson getting a handful of appearances mixed in.

Vanecek led the team with a 21-10-4 record in 37 games (36 starts), two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, while Samsonov amassed a 13-4-1 record in 19 games (18 starts) as Vanecek’s backup.

Samsonov had a 2.69 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts, while Anderson went 2-1-0 in four games played (two starts) and yielded a 2.13 goals-against average, as well as a .915 save percentage in that span.

Though Anderson is the only goaltender on the roster with previous playoff experience– including a 23-22 record in 46 games (46 starts) to go along with four shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in the process– Vanecek will likely be the starter for the Caps for the foreseeable future.

Especially with Samsonov still in COVID protocol on Friday (at the time of this writing).

Brad Marchand led the Bruins in scoring with 29-40–69 totals in 53 games this season, while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were tied for the second-most points with 48 points each.

Bergeron had 23-25–48 totals in 54 games, while Pastrnak had 20-28–48 totals in 48 games after getting a late start to the season due to offseason surgery.

Meanwhile, David Krejci, for those wondering, had 8-36–44 totals in 51 games and had the fourth-most points on the roster this season.

Boston’s current career postseason scoring leaders shapes up to be exactly what you expect– Krejci leads over Bergeron and Marchand.

Krejci has 40-75–115 totals in 145 career Stanley Cup Playoff games entering 2021, while Bergeron has 111 points (42 goals, 69 assists) in 149 playoff games and Marchand has 95 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 121 postseason games.

The trio of Bruins define an era of consistent success not seen since the days of Phil Esposito in the spoked-B and are in search of their second Stanley Cup ring.

Boston utilized four goaltenders this season due to injury and COVID protocol effecting the season as Tuukka Rask led the team with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts)– amassing a 2.28 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts in the process.

Rask’s “average” season was balanced out by Jaroslav Halak’s “average” season as a backup– posting a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts), as well as a 2.53 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.

Despite Halak’s best efforts, the emergence of Jeremy Swayman has led to Swayman moving up in the depth charts from surefire starter in Providence (AHL) to current NHL backup (with the ultimate goal of taking over for Rask someday as the Bruins transition from their franchise goaltender to their 22-year-old first year professional).

Swayman had a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts) and put up a 1.50 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .945 save percentage in his first taste of the NHL.

Dan Vladar, meanwhile, contributed where it mattered most and, despite one, 8-1, loss on the second night of back-to-back games against Washington, managed to have a 2-2-1 record in five games played (five starts) with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage for Boston.

With Halak relegated to the third string goaltender role, his 17-20 record in 39 postseason games (37 starts) and 2.48 goals-against average, as well as his .919 career playoff save percentage should remain untouched.

Sure, Vladar made a relief appearance in the 2020 Second Round, but Rask is Boston’s starter, after all.

And for good reason too– since Rask has a 51-42 record in 93 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (93 starts), as well as seven shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in that span.

No. 40 in black and gold is two wins away from tying Gerry Cheevers for the most postseason wins in franchise history (53).


The Capitals went 4-4-0, while the Bruins went 4-2-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Boston outscoring Washington, 26-25, in that span.

As noted, don’t let too many results in their head-to-head matchups from this season fool you.

The Bruins dressed the equivalents of their AHL affiliate (Providence Bruins) about two times against the Capitals this season.

The first time was due to a ton of injuries and the second time happened to be another final night of a back-to-back matchup in Boston’s schedule and the end of the regular season with both teams having clinched a playoff berth and not eligible for mobility in the standings.

That said, the B’s and Caps are pretty evenly matched.

Vanecek has the chance to ride the waves of his breakout season, while Rask is the steady hand that’s been the model of consistency in the crease this time of year.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, should get the most out of Krejci, Craig Smith and Taylor Hall to round out his top-six forwards, while Peter Laviolette can rely on Chara’s past knowledge of Boston’s systems to utilize as a strength for Washington.

That said, the Bruins should try to wrap things up in six games and move on to the Second Round before worrying about what a Game 7 would look like on the road for the first time since 2011.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT WSH at Capital One Arena on Jan. 30th

5-3 BOS at Capital One Arena on Feb. 1st

2-1 F/SO WSH at TD Garden on March 1st

5-1 BOS at TD Garden on March 5th

4-2 BOS at Capital One Arena on April 8th

8-1 WSH at TD Garden on April 11th

6-3 BOS at TD Garden on April 18th

2-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on May 11th

Schedule:

5/15- Game 1 BOS @ WSH 7:15 PM ET on NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/17- Game 2 BOS @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/19- Game 3 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/21- Game 4 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/23- Game 5 BOS @ WSH*

5/25- Game 6 WSH @ BOS*

5/27- Game 7 BOS @ WSH*

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NHL Nick's Net

Capitals rout Bruins, 8-1, B’s make trades after game

The Washington Capitals handed the Boston Bruins an, 8-1, loss at TD Garden in what was Boston’s worst loss of the season on Sunday.

Three Caps forwards each had a pair of goals in the win, while Vitek Vanecek (17-7-3, 2.60 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 29 games played) made 34 saves on 35 shots against for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Dan Vladar (3-2-0, 3.40 goals-against average, .886 save percentage in five games played) stopped 25 out of 33 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 21-12-6 (48 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 27-11-4 (58 points) overall and remained in control of the division.

The B’s are now 3-1-2 against Washington this season and were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (precautionary reasons) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but had to jumbled his defensive pairings out of necessity with over half of his regular blue liners out of the lineup due to injury.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Connor Clifton, while Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer remained together on the second pairing.

Meanwhile, Jarred Tinordi entered the lineup on the third pairing with Jack Ahcan.

Anders Bjork, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Grzelcyk, Callum Booth, McAvoy and Miller made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and players out of the lineup due to injury on Sunday.

Four seconds after puck drop, Chris Wagner and Brenden Dillon dropped their gloves and exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors in what was Boston’s 10th fight of the season and first since Nick Ritchie fought Garnet Hathaway in the B’s, 4-2, win in Washington on April 8th.

23 seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov slashed Ritchie and presented the Bruins with the game’s first power play 27 seconds into the first period.

Those were about the only positives of the night for Boston.

Washington’s penalty kill dismantled Kuznetsov’s minor and the Capitals got their first taste of a skater advantage at 5:49, when Sean Kuraly interfered with John Carlson away from the puck.

Late on the ensuing power play, T.J. Oshie (13) one-timed a shot from the bumper past Vladar on the short side for his ninth power-play goal of the season.

Nicklas Backstrom (28) and Kuznetsov (14) tallied the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 7:33 of the first period.

16 seconds later, Lars Eller (6) chased a Washington chip shot clearing attempt, blew past Boston’s defense and beat Vladar over the glove on the short side to give the Capitals a two-goal lead at 7:49.

Carl Hagelin (7) and Hathaway (10) tallied the assists on Eller’s first goal of the game.

Less than two minutes later, Conor Sheary (9) scored on a fast break that led to a de facto 2-on-1 in the attacking zone while Kampfer was out of position encroaching on Lauzon’s responsibilities in the defensive zone for Boston.

Dmitry Orlov (6) and Daniel Sprong (6) were credited with the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the night and the Capitals led, 3-0, at 9:42 of the first period.

Washington notched three goals in a span of 2:09 as the offensive onslaught was only just beginning for the rest of the night.

Sprong slashed Lauzon at 13:34, but the Bruins could not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Caps led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on goal.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and takeaways (4-0), while Boston led in giveaways (4-3), hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after 20 minutes of action on Sunday.

The Caps were 1/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Craig Smith held Sheary and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result to kickoff the second period with another power play for Washington at 2:57.

Once again, late in ensuing the skater advantage, the Capitals tallied another power-play goal as Sheary (10) scored his second goal of the night on a rebound that the University of Massachusetts product buried top-shelf while the Bruins netminder outstretched his limbs in all directions.

Tom Wilson (15) and Jakub Vrana (14) had the assists as the Capitals extended their lead, 4-0, at 4:41 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Justin Schultz was sent to the sin bin for hooking David Pastrnak at 5:34, but Boston’s power play was powerless.

Midway through the middle period, Pastrnak hooked Sheary and presented the Caps with another power play at 13:26, but for the first time of the night, Boston’s penalty kill did not allow a power-play goal against.

Washington scored in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, however, as Nic Dowd received a gift thanks to David Krejci’s attacking zone faceoff win going through the uprights as neither Bruins defender got a stick on the puck.

Hagelin setup Dowd (8) for a floater over Vladar’s glove side on a breakout off of the B’s turnover.

Washington led, 5-0, while Hagelin (8) had the only assist on Dowd’s goal at 16:03.

30 seconds later, Lauzon caught Wilson with a high-stick at 16:33.

Late in the resulting power play (stop if you’ve heard this one before), Wilson (10) redirected a shot pass behind the Bruins goaltender to give the Caps another power-play goal and a, 6-0, lead on the scoreboard.

Alex Ovechkin (16) and Schultz (19) tallied the assists on Wilson’s goal at 18:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Washington led, 6-0, on the scoreboard, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 16-14, in the second period alone. The two clubs each had 23 total shots on goal after two periods.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (60-40), while the Caps led in blocked shots (6-4) and takeaways (10-4).

Both teams had four giveaways aside as Washington was 3/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Backstrom hooked Charlie Coyle and the Bruins went on the power play at 2:01 of the third period.

About a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Smith (8) wrapped a rebound around Vanecek and into the net to put Boston on the scoreboard with a power-play goal.

Jake DeBrusk (5) and Coyle (9) had the assists on Smith’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 6-1, at 3:00 of the third period.

Moments later, Coyle slashed Eller and was sent to the box at 7:49.

Washington did not score on the resulting power play.

Oshie (14) added his second goal of the night on a home run that he tipped in– batting the puck out of the air– over Vladar’s glove side shoulder to make it, 7-1, Washington at 10:13.

Backstrom (29) had the only assist on the goal.

A few minutes later, Eller (7) pocketed his second goal of the night, while Oshie (19) recorded his third point of the game with the primary assist. Dillon (13) was credited with the secondary assist as the Caps led, 8-1, at 13:14.

Washington’s eighth goal marked the most goals allowed by Boston this season, surpassing that of their, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th.

Late in the period, Kampfer hooked Sheary, but the Capitals didn’t score on the resulting power play at 18:32.

At the final horn, Washington had sealed the deal on an, 8-1, victory, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 35-33, including a, 12-10, advantage for Boston in the third period alone.

The B’s finished Sunday night’s action leading in hits (25-13) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Caps headed out of town with the advantage in blocked shots (9-5) and giveaways (9-5).

Washington finished the night 3/6 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins fell to 7-8-3 (4-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-8-2 (3-3-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-7-1 (3-5-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Capitals improved to 18-5-2 (10-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-3-3 (7-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 21-2-0 (12-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Boston continues their five-game homestand (0-1-0) with a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday before taking on the New York Islanders on Thursday and Friday prior to facing Washington again next Sunday (April 18th).

In the meantime, the 2021 trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET and the Bruins have already made a pair of moves after their, 8-1, loss to the Capitals on Sunday.

The Bruins acquired defender, Mike Reilly, from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick and have reportedly traded Bjork and a 2nd round pick to the Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar.

More information to come here on Down the Frozen River as trades are announced on Monday.

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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand, Swayman, lead Bruins over Capitals, 4-2

Brad Marchand scored his 30th career shorthanded goal, while Jeremy Swayman picked up his second career National Hockey League win in as many consecutive games played in the Boston Bruins’, 4-2, victory over the Washington Capitals Thursday night at Capital One Arena.

Swayman (2-0-0, 2.02 goals-against average, .947 save percentage in two games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Washington netminder, Ilya Samsonov (9-3-1, 2.97 goals-against average, .894 save percentage in 14 games played), stopped 28 out of 32 shots on goal in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 21-10-6 (48 points) on the season and remain in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division– four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for 3rd place.

Meanwhile, the Capitals fell to 25-11-4 (54 points) overall and fell to 2nd place in the same division as a result of the New York Islanders’, 3-2, shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Boston is now 3-0-2 against Washington this season.

The B’s were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Thursday.

McAvoy is out until Sunday at least, according to Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, as told to reporters via Zoom ahead of Thursday night’s action in Washington, D.C.

Rask is still day-to-day and traveled with the team for their three-game road trip.

With Frederic out due to an illness, Anton Blidh took over his role on the fourth line left wing. Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup, despite Jack Ahcan and Callum Booth rejoining Boston’s taxi squad.

Anders Bjork was scratched for his third consecutive game, while Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Ahcan, Booth, McAvoy and Jarred Tinordi rounded out the list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players against the Capitals.

Less than a minute into the action, Jeremy Lauzon (1) fired a shot from the point that had eyes and worked its way through Samsonov’s five-hole before trickling over the goal line to give Boston a, 1-0, lead 37 seconds into the first period.

Marchand (28) and Craig Smith (12) tallied the assists on Lauzon’s first goal of the season and the Bruins were off to a fast start at Capital One Arena.

Moments later, Tom Wilson tripped Jakub Zboril and was sent to the penalty box, presenting the B’s with the night’s first power play.

Boston’s special teams could not convert on their first skater advantage of the night, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Brenden Dillon cross checked Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, and cut a rut to the sin bin at 13:27.

The B’s capitalized on the vulnerable minute after a power play when Capitals defender, Justin Schultz, tried to bounce the puck off the endboards behind the net to his teammate, Zdeno Chara, except the rubber biscuit took an odd bounce and rebounded to the side of the Washington net– right where Blidh was standing.

Blidh (1) tapped in the gift from The Hockey Gods on the short side while Samsonov was caught not expecting the unexpected (but then again, who was?) and the Bruins had a two-goal lead as a result at 16:02.

About 30 seconds later, Charlie Coyle, hooked Washington forward, Daniel Carr, at 16:31, but the Caps didn’t score on the resulting power play.

In the dying minute of the first period, Nick Ritchie and Garnet Hathaway exchanged pleasantries– leading to the exchange of fisticuffs at 19:01.

Both players received a five-minute major for fighting, while Ritchie picked up an extra minor for slashing that was served by Karson Kuhlman and would carry over into the middle frame.

It was the ninth fight of the season for Boston and Ritchie’s second of the season– the first fight for Boston since Tinordi fought Wilson on March 5th in Boston’s, 5-1, win against Washington and the first fight for Ritchie since he fought then New York Rangers forward, Brendan Lemieux, in Boston’s, 4-1, win at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28th.

Through 20 minutes of play on Thursday night, the Bruins led the Capitals, 2-0, on the scoreboard at Capital One Arena.

The B’s also held the advantage in shots on goal (17-9), blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (2-1), hits (10-7) and faceoff win percentage (64-36), while the Caps led in giveaways (5-0).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Zboril tripped Conor Sheary to kick off the second period with a power play for the Capitals at 2:44.

The Bruins’ penalty kill, however, dominated the ensuing special teams action, featuring Marchand’s toe drag around Schultz while the Caps defender dove– sliding backwards toward the boards before Marchand (19) performed another quick move with the puck to his backhand for a shot over Samsonov’s glove and his second shorthanded goal of the season.

Marchand’s individual effort was unassisted and the Bruins led, 3-0, at 4:09 of the second period.

Moments later, Blidh was penalized for slashing and roughing against Lars Eller at 8:39, yielding an extended 5-on-4 advantage for Washington in the process.

The Capitals went on a 5-on-3 advantage for two minutes when Zboril interfered with Sheary at 10:04.

This time, however, Washington made quick work of their skater advantage.

Alex Ovechkin (20) blasted a one-timer from his usual spot above the faceoff dot for his 266th career power-play goal– surpassing Brett Hull for sole possession of the second-most power-play goals in NHL history in the process.

John Carlson (23) and T.J. Oshie (17) had the assists on Ovechkin’s goal and the Capitals trailed, 3-1, at 10:08.

Less than 20 seconds later, Oshie (12) rocketed another power-play goal past Swayman to cut Boston’s lead to one-goal.

Carlson (24) and Nicklas Backstrom (27) tabbed the assists on Oshie’s goal at 10:27 and the Capitals trailed, 3-2.

Moments later, Oshie bumped Matt Grzelcyk with a borderline cross check, which resulted in Grzelcyk catching Eller with a stick up high.

Eller fell to the ice and drew blood– stopping play while the puck was in Boston’s attacking zone at the other end of the rink– however no penalty was called on the play as Grzelcyk’s stick catching Eller’s face had been a result of Oshie’s initial shove.

Moments after Eller spilled blood on the ice, Bruins defender, Steven Kampfer, leaked his own red bodily fluids in about the same area when he and Carl Hagelin went awkwardly into the boards.

This time, however, despite Kampfer losing an edge, Hagelin had gone a step too far in remaining in contact with the Boston skater and drove him into the boards, yielding a boarding infraction at 14:45.

Washington killed off Hagelin’s minor penalty, however, and despite bleeding, Kampfer was fine to continue the rest of the night (as was Eller).

After two periods of play, the B’s led the Caps, 3-2, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 24-23, despite trailing Washington, 14-7, in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston had the advantage in blocked shots (10-6), takeaways (8-4) and faceoff win% (57-43), while Washington led in giveaways (5-1) and hits (21-17).

The Capitals were 2/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/3 heading into the final frame.

Hathaway and Marchand drew matching unsportsmanlike minors at 6:43 of the third period, yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 play, but both clubs escaped without issue as 5-on-5 full strength resumed afterward.

Late in the third period, Carr hooked Sean Kuraly at 15:20.

About 90 seconds into resulting the power play, Smith (7) picked up a loose puck that had deflected off of Chara’s skate and sent a shot over Samsonov’s blocker side to give Boston a two-goal lead once again at 16:55.

Coyle (7) and Zboril (8) tallied the assists on Smith’s power-play goal and the Bruins led, 4-2.

With about 2:15 remaining in the game, Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail, even after Washington used their timeout with 1:45 left in the action to drum up a game-tying, if not game-winning plan.

Despite Marchand’s tripping minor at 19:55, the Capitals were empty handed as the Bruins emerged victorious at the final horn.

Boston defeated Washington, 4-2, on the final scoreboard, despite trailing the Caps in total shots on goal, 33-32, including a, 10-8, advantage for Washington in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (18-9) and faceoff win% (58-42), while the Capitals wrapped up Thursday’s action leading in giveaways (6-2) and hits (26-19).

The Caps went 2/7 and the B’s went 1/4 on the power play on Thursday as Boston picked up back-to-back wins for the second time in their last 24 games.

The Bruins also improved to 14-3-3 (8-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 11-0-2 (6-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 12-0-2 (5-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Washington, meanwhile, fell to 9-6-2 (5-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-7-1 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 2-7-0 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

Boston finishes their three-game road trip (2-0-0) with a return to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon to take on the Flyers before heading home to begin a five-game homestand and host the Capitals on Sunday.

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NHL Nick's Net

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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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins score five unanswered in, 5-3, comeback over Capitals

For the second game in a row, the Boston Bruins got themselves out of a, 3-0, deficit only this time they just kept scoring and beat the Washington Capitals, 5-3, in regulation at Capital One Arena Monday night.

David Pastrnak recorded a pair of goals and the B’s notched five unanswered– including four goals in the third period alone– en route to the victory.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (3-0-1, 1.72 goals against average, .923 save percentage in four games played), made 23 saves on 26 shots faced for an .885 SV% in the win.

Meanwhile, Capitals netminder, Vitek Vanecek (5-1-2, 2.94 GAA, .913 SV% in eight games played), stopped 28 out of 32 shots against for an .875 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 6-1-2 (14 points) on the season and remains in command of 3rd place in the MassMutual East Division, while Washington fell to 6-1-3 (15 points) overall and bounced out of their top spot for the division lead by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Capitals are now 2nd by virtue of having one fewer regulation win than the Flyers. Washington has four this season, while Philadelphia has five.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) on Monday, while Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar all remained as healthy scratches and/or listed on Boston’s taxi squad.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his right wings from Saturday night’s, 4-3, loss in overtime to the Capitals to Monday night’s action– moving Craig Smith to the David Krejci’s right side on the second line and Chris Wagner to Charlie Coyle’s right side on the third line, while demoting Karson Kuhlman to the right side of the fourth line.

Cassidy made no other adjustments to his lineup.

Almost midway into the first frame, Bruins defender, Kevan Miller, was penalized for interference, yielding the game’s first power play opportunity to the Capitals at 8:18 of the first period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, the Capitals thought they had taken advantage of a momentum swing thanks to their successful penalty kill when it appeared that a shot from John Carlson had eyes and was redirected by Carl Hagelin into the twine behind Halak at 11:41, but Boston used their coach’s challenge on the grounds that the play entering the zone was offside.

After review, it was determined that Garnet Hathaway entered the offensive zone offside while the puck was mid-air at the blue line.

It was not in Hathaway’s immediate possession, as Miller had forced the puck to take flight on a poke check.

Had the Boston defender not gotten his stick on the puck, it’s likely the goal wouldn’t have been overturned as a result of an impressive move by the Washington forward in accordance with the new interpretation of “breaking the plane”.

Then again, who knows? What’s a catch, anyway?

Hagelin’s goal being discredited did not deter the Washington attack.

A couple minutes later, the Capitals won a faceoff in the offensive zone, worked the puck back to former Bruin defender, Zdeno Chara, and let the 6-foot-9 blue line wind up for one of his patented slap shots from the point.

Chara (2) sent a rocket low on Halak’s blocker side into the back of the net and gave the Caps the first official goal of the night at 13:26 of the first period.

Washington led, 1-0.

Hathaway (2) and Nic Dowd (2) had the assists.

It was Chara’s first goal against Boston since April 11, 2006, when he was then a member of the Ottawa Senators and scored two goals– including the game-winner– in a, 4-3, overtime victory for the Sens.

The Capitals grabbed a two-goal lead 11 seconds after Chara kicked off the night’s scoring when Daniel Sprong (2) worked his way in close and fired a shot through Halak’s five-hole.

Jakub Vrana (4) and Nick Jensen (2) tallied the assists on Sprong’s goal and Washington led, 2-0, at 13:37.

Late in the period, Jakub Zboril delivered a swift cross check to T.J. Oshie and promptly received a minor infraction at 18:23.

Washington’s power play would extend into the middle frame, but yield no change in the scoreboard.

After one period of play, the Capitals led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 15-8, in shots on goal.

The Caps also held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), giveaways (4-0), hits (9-8) and faceoff win percentage (61-39).

Both teams had two takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/2 on the power play (Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage).

Oshie kicked off the middle frame with a holding penalty against Zboril– presenting the Bruins with their first taste of power play action at 3:07 of the second period.

About a minute later, Hathaway cut a rut to the penalty box on an automatic delay of game minor for clearing the puck over the glass at 4:09.

Boston had a 5-on-3 advantage for 58 seconds, but didn’t muster anything on the scoreboard in what was a failed power play operation.

Shortly after killing off both infractions, Washington went on the power play after Jeremy Lauzon hooked Tom Wilson at 7:19.

About a minute later, Carlson and Vrana setup a give-and-go through Wagner’s legs back to Carlson (4) whereby the Capitals defender waltzed into the slot before dragging and snapping a shot over Halak’s blocker side for a power-play goal.

Vrana (5) had the only assist on Carlson’s goal as Washington took a, 3-0, lead at 8:35 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Boston couldn’t stop their bad habits as Krejci caught Trevor van Riemsdyk without the puck and received an interference minor at 9:03.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Midway through the middle frame, the Bruins won a faceoff in the offensive zone before working the puck to Brad Marchand as Pastrnak setup in the bumper position.

Marchand fed Pastrnak (1) for the one-timer goal while Patrice Bergeron screened the Washington netminder to cut the Caps’ lead to two-goals.

Marchand (7) and Brandon Carlo (1) tabbed the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the season as the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 12:37 of the second period.

Dowd promptly tripped Pastrnak at 13:51 and presented the B’s with a skater advantage, but Boston’s power play was powerless on Monday– despite getting creative at one point and utilizing a special teams unit comprised of only forwards.

Through 40 minutes of action in D.C., the Capitals led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 20-17, in shots on goal, despite Boston leading in second period shots alone, 9-5.

Washington also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (10-7), takeaways (5-3) and giveaways (7-0), while Boston led in hits (17-14).

The two clubs were 50-50 in faceoff win% after two periods.

Meanwhile, the Caps were 1/4 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the night on the skater advantage.

Early in the final frame, the Bruins won an attacking zone faceoff whereby Boston’s defense worked the puck to Pastrnak for a quick wraparound from the dot to the circle on Vanecek’s right side before Pastrnak (2) unloaded a shot past the Washington goalie’s low blocker side.

The Bruins trailed by one as Zboril (2) and Charlie McAvoy (7) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night.

Washington barely held onto a, 3-2, lead at 6:08 of the third period with more than enough time for the inevitable comeback.

Almost midway in the third, Trent Frederic and Wilson exchanged fisticuffs at 8:49, yielding fighting majors in what was a considerably favorable tradeoff for Boston.

Sure, the Bruins first year forward would miss at least the next five minutes, but Washington’s power-forward scorer in Wilson would also be off of the ice too.

The fight was just the second of Frederic’s young National Hockey League career (with his first coming back on Jan. 29, 2019, in his NHL debut against Brandon Tanev and the Winnipeg Jets), as well as just the second fight this season for Boston (previous, Kevan Miller vs. Miles Wood on Jan. 16th in New Jersey).

At 10:02 of the third period, Alex Ovechkin slashed Nick Ritchie and presented Boston with a power play that coincided with an already surging momentum swing in the Bruins’ favor.

Though the B’s did not score on the ensuing skater advantage, Boston caught Washington in the vulnerable minute after special teams action when Smith (3) one-timed a shot past Vanecek’s blocker side.

Lauzon (2) setup Smith with the primary assist on a backhand pass through the slot, while Ritchie (4) was credited with the secondary assist as the Bruins tied it, 3-3, at 13:07 of the third period.

A little more than four minutes later, the Bruins made good on the comeback– Carlo (2) blasted a one-timer past the Capitals netminder to give the B’s their first lead of the night, 4-3.

Sean Kuraly (1) and Wagner (1) each earned their first assist of the season on Carlo’s goal at 17:23.

With 1:38 remaining in regulation, Washington head coach, Peter Laviolette, used his timeout and pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Though the Caps drew up plans to try to tie the game, the B’s foiled them.

Krejci setup Marchand (6) with a lead pass through the neutral zone so that No. 63 in black and gold could hit the empty net and give Boston a two-goal lead.

Krejci (7) had the only assist on Marchand’s empty net goal at 18:34 and the Bruins led, 5-3.

Washington pulled their goalie again with about 35 seconds left, but it was to no avail as the clock ticked down to the final seconds, then “zero”.

Boston sealed the deal on the, 5-3, comeback victory– scoring five unanswered goals in what was just their sixth victory after overcoming a three-goal deficit in the regular season since 1995-96.

The Bruins finished Monday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 33-26, including a, 16-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also finished the night leading in hits (27-17), while Washington wrapped up Monday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (19-8) and giveaways (11-2).

The teams finished the night 50-50 in faceoff win%, while the B’s went 0/4 and the Caps went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 1-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 2-0-1 when trailing after the second period and 2-1-1 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

They also became the first team to beat Washington in regulation this season.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (1-0-1) with a pair of games in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Wednesday and Friday before returning home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins rally, Ovi ends it, Caps top B’s, 4-3, in OT

The Boston Bruins came back from being down, 3-0, only for Alex Ovechkin to do what he does best and score the game-winning goal less than a minute into overtime on Saturday night at Capital One Arena– giving the Washington Capitals the, 4-3, victory in the process.

Vitek Vanecek (5-0-2, 2.78 goals against average, .918 save percentage in seven games played) made 40 saves on 43 shots against for a .930 SV% in the win for the Capitals.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-1-1, 2.49 GAA, .890 SV% in five games played), stopped 19 out of 23 shots faced for an .826 SV% in the overtime loss.

Boston fell to 5-1-2 (12 points) overall and slipped to 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Washington improved to 6-0-3 (15 points) and maintained their division lead.

Saturday night marked the first of eight meetings between Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, and his most recent former team after spending 14 seasons as captain of the Bruins.

His last game against Boston was on April 11, 2006, as a member of the Ottawa Senators, in which Chara had two goals– including the game-winning goal in overtime– as the Sens beat the B’s, 4-3.

Chara had a plus-1 rating on Saturday and recorded one shot on goal, as well as one takeaway in 20:54 time on ice.

With David Pastrnak back in the lineup for the first time this season since undergoing a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy made a few adjustments to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-1, win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, Pastrnak was slotted into his usual spot on the first line right wing, while Karson Kuhlman also made his season debut in place of Jack Studnicka in the lineup and placed on the second line right wing.

Charlie Coyle was reunited with Trent Frederic and Craig Smith as his wingers on the third line, while Sean Kuraly was flanked by Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner on the fourth line.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk remained out of the lineup with a lower body injury, so Connor Clifton suited up next to Brandon Carlo on the second pairing.

Ondrej Kase (upper body), Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) were out of the lineup due to injury, while Greg McKegg, Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar made up Boston’s list of scratches and/or taxi squad members on Saturday.

Late in the opening frame, Nicklas Backstrom (5) generated a turnover and broke into the attacking zone with possession before the puck had crossed the blue line (putting the new interpretation of what’s “offside” to the eye-test as the Bruins did not use a coach’s challenge) before wiring a shot past Rask.

Backstrom’s goal was unassisted and gave the Capitals a, 1-0, lead at 18:06 of the first period.

It also came after a barrage of shots by Boston that were turned aside with ease by Vanecek. Talk about a momentum swing.

Less than a minute later, Washington presented the Bruins with the first power play of the night when Richard Panik tripped Coyle at 18:45.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

With 12.3 seconds left in the first period, Pastrnak fired a shot that deflected off of Chara’s stick and hit the Capitals defender in the face. Chara returned for the second period with a minor scratch and some signs of blood loss, but was undeterred.

After 20 minutes of action at Capital One Arena, the Caps led, 1-0, despite trailing the B’s in shots on goal, 19-7.

Washington held the advantage in just about everything else, however, including blocked shots (10-2), takeaways (4-3) and hits (12-5), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (58-42).

Both teams had four giveaways aside, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play.

The Capitals had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Washington established a net front presence that cut down on Rask’s line of sight enabling Trevor van Riemsdyk (1) to score his first goal as a Capital with a wrist from from the point while the Bruins netminder was screened.

Brenden Dillon (4) and Backstrom (7) tallied the assists on van Riemsdyk’s goal and the Caps extended their lead to, 2-0, at 5:22 of the second period.

Moments later, David Krejci hooked Nic Dowd and cut a rut to the penalty box, yielding a power play to the Capitals for the first and only time Saturday night at 8:39.

Late in the ensuing power play, after an attacking zone faceoff, Washington zipped the puck back to the point then to Tom Wilson at the faceoff dot for a shot that ricocheted off of Panik (1) and over Rask’s blocker.

Wilson (4) and Ovechkin (5) had the assists as Washington grabbed a, 3-0, lead thanks to Panik’s power-play goal at 10:03 of the second period.

Moments later, Garnet Hathaway was penalized for interference at 16:43 and Boston had a chance to answer on the power play.

The Bruins went to work as Nick Ritchie set himself up in front of the net while Patrice Bergeron sent a shot towards the crease, where the rubber biscuit first clipped Krejci on its way by before bouncing off of Ritchie (4) and into the twine.

Krejci (6) and Bergeron (4) were credited with the assists as Ritchie’s power-play goal pulled Boston to within two goals, trialing Washington, 3-1, at 17:32 of the second period.

Heading into the second intermission, the Caps led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but the Bruins led, 34-17, in shots on goal, including a, 15-10, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also led in faceoff win% (53-47), while Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (16-8), giveaways (6-4) and hits (27-9).

Both teams had six takeaways each.

The Capitals were 1/1, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation.

Brad Marchand (5) fired a shot over Vanecek’s blocker side from point blank early in the third period to pull the Bruins to within one.

Off of an icing, Boston won the ensuing attacking zone faceoff and worked the puck from Bergeron to Charlie McAvoy then over to Marchand for the goal to make it, 3-2, at 6:03 of the third period.

McAvoy (6) and Bergeron (5) nabbed the assists on Marchand’s goal.

Less than a minute later, Jakub Vrana caught Jeremy Lauzon with a high stick and was sent to the box at 6:43, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Late in the period, the Capitals lost count of their skaters and had too many on the ice with possession, thus rendering an automatic delay of game infraction at 14:04.

Conor Sheary served Washington’s bench minor, but Boston couldn’t tie the game on the resulting power play.

With 1:24 remaining in regulation, Rask vacated his net for an extra attacker.

Seconds later, Boston hacked away at the puck until McAvoy (1) slipped it through Vanecek for his first of the season at 19:02 of the third period– tying the game, 3-3, in the process.

Pastrnak (1) and Bergeron (6) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s game-tying goal as the Bruins forced overtime.

At the end of regulation, the game was tied, 3-3, despite the Bruins outshooting the Capitals, 43-22, including a, 9-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington led in blocked shots (25-10), takeaways (11-8) and hits (38-15), while Boston held the advantage in faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had nine giveaways each, while the Capitals finished the night 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins went 1/4 on the skater advantage as there were no penalties called in overtime.

Peter Laviolette sent out Backstrom, Ovechkin and John Carlson to start in overtime, while Cassidy matched with Krejci, Pastrnak and McAvoy.

The puck hadn’t even been on the ice for 30 seconds in overtime before Ovechkin (2) skated from his own end on a drop pass from Backstrom to the attacking end and ripped a shot over Rask’s blocker side from just after the blue line to win the game for Washington.

Backstrom (8) and Carlson (7) notched the assists on Ovechkin’s game-winning goal 28 seconds into the overtime period as the Capitals sealed the deal on the, 4-3, victory.

Boston never had possession in overtime prior to what was the 24th career regular season overtime game-winning goal for Ovechkin.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-23, despite trailing Washington in shots in overtime alone, 1-0.

Washington finished the night leading in blocked shots (26-10) and hits (38-15), while Boston led in faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams finished Saturday night’s effort with nine giveaways aside.

The Capitals improved to 1-1 in overtime this season (2-3 overall past regulation), while the Bruins fell to 1-2 in overtime this season (3-2 past regulation).

Boston also fell to 0-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 1-0-1 when trailing after the second period and 1-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Despite all that, the B’s have not lost a game by more than one goal this season.

The Bruins continue their four-game road trip (0-0-1) with another matchup with the Capitals on Monday (Feb. 1st) before venturing to Philadelphia for two games against the Flyers on Feb. 3rd and Feb. 5th prior to returning home to Boston on Feb. 6th against the Buffalo Sabres.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #206- What’s Kapanen, My Dudes?

The DTFR Duo discuss Photoshop, Todd Reirden’s firing, Arizona Coyotes draft violations, the Kasperi Kapanen trade back to Pittsburgh and the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview: Eastern Conference

The turnaround from the Qualifier to the First Round was too quick to get this out of the way (other than on the podcast), but at least the league and broadcasting partners gave us all a day or two between the First and Second Round– oh.

By the time that you’ll be reading this, all four Second Round series’ will have played at least one game, while some might have already played through two games.

Fear not, though, the series winner and other basic notes entering the Second Round were written down before puck drop and before the rest of the words in this post were filled around them.

Once again, this postseason is unpredictable– and that’s besides whatever happens on the ice.

At any point in time things could be shutdown again, because– you know– of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The players, coaches, team and league staff, as well as broadcasting crews and essential arena/hotel employees have all been in the bubble for almost a month now.

There aren’t enough words to express how taxing on the mind the isolation really is, despite teammates being in the bubble together, etc.

None on the league staff or team staff will see their families, romantic partners, roommates back home, etc. until they’re either eliminated or heading home with the Stanley Cup in their arms *fingers crossed*.

Luckily, the league’s made it this far into Phase 4 with no positive tests for COVID-19 out of the thousands of tests they’ve conducted.

For one reason or another (TV broadcast deals, probably), they’ve decided to make the Second Round feature a multitude of “back-to-backs”– that’s two games in two nights, whereas normally by this point in the playoffs there’s always (except for extenuating arena availability circumstances) a day off between each game in a series.

Alas, being in two bubble cities (Edmonton and Toronto), the league can do whatever it wants.

For now, let’s focus on the Eastern Conference teams in the Second Round.

As a reminder, the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, if everything goes according to plan. All Eastern Conference games before then, however, will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.

Sadly, families won’t allowed to join the players in the Conference Finals and beyond as was first anticipated at the beginning of the bubble.

(1) Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points) vs (6) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points)

Philadelphia: 69 games played, .645 points percentage, 31 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 68 games played, .588 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

In his first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Alain Vigneault led the team from finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Conference by points percentage at the stoppage to securing the top seed in the East as a result of an undefeated Round Robin performance in what can only be described as wild a ride as the year 2020 has been.

No, the Flyers haven’t had as many lows as what 2020 has brought to the world, but they’ve been on fire as of late– since February, really– so maybe the universe is collapsing only because Philadelphia has what might be their greatest chance at winning the Cup for the first time since 1975.

Oh and they have a legitimate goaltender, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the First Round to advance to their Second Round matchup with the New York Islanders and– as has been the trend with 2020– nobody quite knows what to expect going into this series.

Travis Konecny led Philly in scoring in the regular season with 24-37–61 totals in 66 games before the ongoing pandemic shortened the season. Sean Couturier had the second-most points with 59 in 69 games and Jakub Voracek was third on the roster in scoring with 56 points in 69 games.

Thus far in the postseason, Voracek leads the team entering the Second Round with eight points (four goals, four assists) in eight games. Kevin Hayes has 1-6–7 totals in nine games, while Scott Laughton and Couturier each have five points entering Philly’s matchup with the Islanders.

In the regular season, Carter Hart led the way in the crease with a 24-13-3 record in 43 games (40 starts), one shutout, as well as a 2.42 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in that span.

Brian Elliott forged a 16-7-4 record in 31 games (27 starts), with a 2.87 GAA, an .899 SV% and two shutouts as Philadelphia’s backup, while Alex Lyon made three appearances (two starts) and had a 3.55 GAA, as well as an .890 SV% in the process.

Entering the Second Round, Hart has a 6-2-0 record in eight games with a 1.71 GAA, a .943 SV% and two shutouts in the process, while Elliott made one start and one relief appearance (two games) for a 1-0-0 record with a 1.47 GAA and a .913 SV%.

At the other end of the ice, the New York Islanders overcame the Florida Panthers in four games (3-1) in their best of five Qualifier series, then defeated the Washington Capitals in five games (4-1) in the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to line themselves up with the Flyers in the Second Round.

Mathew Barzal led the charge for the Isles with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games this season with Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games), Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) and Josh Bailey (43 points in 68 games) at the forefront of New York’s offense in 2019-20.

Thus far in the postseason, Bailey’s emerged as the Islanders’ points leader with 2-8–10 totals in nine games, while Anthony Beauvillier entered Game 1 against Philadelphia hot on his tail with 6-3–9 totals in nine games.

Meanwhile, Nelson and Barzal each had seven points in nine games for the third most points on the team in the 2020 postseason.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov went 19-14-6 in 45 games (39 starts) in the regular season with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts in that span, while Thomas Greiss backed Varlamov up with a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts), a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV%.

Varlamov has a 7-2 record in nine games entering the Second Round with one shutout, as well as a 1.67 GAA and a .934 SV% in that span.

The Flyers went 0-2-1 in the regular season against the Islanders and– despite being the hottest team since February– now have to face one of the best teams at shutting things down on a night-to-night basis.

Barry Trotz’ defensive scheme is a game plan for success with the Isles’ makeup, so the Flyers are going to have to pull them away from their go-to lanes.

Plus there’s the lack of offense to worry about for Philadelphia from their First Round matchup with the Canadiens that, if any of it is leftover for the Second Round, could spell trouble for Philly’s Cup hopes.

Meanwhile, despite Varlamov’s consistency this postseason, the Flyers have the upper hand in the crease with Hart getting into a rhythm and hitting his stride when it counts.

This is the fifth time these two clubs have met in the postseason and the Flyers hold the, 3-1, advantage in all time series meetings prior, but there’s a chance New York gets revenge on Philadelphia for the first time since 1980.

As much as New York could pull off the upset (based on seeding only and disregarding regular season head-to-head performance), the Flyers should be able to put it together and advance to their first Eastern Conference Final since 2010, by wrapping things up in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 27th, 4-3 F/SO NYI at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 16th, 5-3 NYI at Barclays Center on Feb. 11th

Schedule:

8/24- Game 1 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 2 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBCN, SN, TVAS

8/27- Game 3 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/29- Game 4 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

8/31- Game 5 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

9/2- Game 6 PHI @ NYI in Toronto*

9/3- Game 7 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points) vs (4) Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points)

Tampa: 70 games played, .657 points percentage, 35 regulation wins.

Boston: 70 games played, .714 points percentage, 38 regulation wins.

Despite the Boston Bruins clinching the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record in the 2019-20 shortened regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the higher seed thanks to a better performance in the 2020 Round Robin.

Tampa avenged their elimination from last year’s First Round in four games by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the five games (4-1) in the 2020 First Round, which included a 5OT victory in Game 1 and a commanding overtime win in Game 5 (that ultimately ended the series, because that’s how a best-of-seven works).

Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning in the regular season with 33-52–85 totals in 68 games played, while Steven Stamkos had the second-most points on the team (66) despite being limited to 57 games due to injury.

Brayden Point, meanwhile, had the third most points on the team in the regular season with 25-39–56 totals in 66 games.

Entering the Second Round, however, Point was in command of Tampa’s scoring leaders with 5-5–10 totals in eight games, while Kucherov had nine points in eight games and a three-way tie for the third most between Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde had yet to be resolved as each had four points prior to Tampa’s series matchup with Boston.

Oh and nobody knows how long Stamkos will be out since having core muscle surgery in March, then leaving practice in July after supposedly recovering in the allotted six to eight weeks post operation.

In the crease, Andrei Vasilevskiy led the charge with a 35-14-3 record in 52 games played (all starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.56 GAA and a .917 SV% in that span.

His backup, Curtis McElhinney, posted an 8-7-3 record in 18 games with a 2.89 GAA, a .906 SV% and one shutout this season.

Entering the Second Round, Vasilevskiy was 6-2 in eight games with a 1.98 GAA and a .927 SV%.

The Lightning have a lot of fire power and a defense that’s good enough to help inflate their goaltender’s win column, regardless of his status as a Vezina Trophy finalist this season– it certainly helps win some games every now and then when the rest of your teammates are limiting your workload for you.

At the other end of the ice, the Boston Bruins went winless in the Round Robin and failed to record a point in the tournament while Chris Wagner led the team in scoring with a pair of goals over the three Round Robin games.

Then they flipped the switch and beat the Carolina Hurricanes in five games (4-1) to advance to the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and, well, here they are.

David Pastrnak shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy honors with Alex Ovechkin in 2019-20, as both players scored 48 goals before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic cut the regular season short.

Pastrnak also led the Bruins in scoring with 48-47–95 totals in 70 games.

Brad Marchand was second on the roster with 28-59–87 totals and Patrice Bergeron completed the first line, as well as the top-three trio in scoring with 31-25–56 totals in 61 games in the regular season.

In the postseason so far, the re-emergence of David “Playoff Krech” Krejci has come to fruition as No. 46 in black-and-gold leads his teammates in playoff scoring with 3-6–9 totals in eight games entering the Second Round.

Marchand (3-4–7 totals in eight games) and Bergeron (2-4–6 totals in eight games) are second and third on the roster, respectively, in scoring prior to their series matchup with Tampa.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined efforts to take home the William M. Jennings Trophy having allowed the fewest combined goals against (174) among goaltender(s) with a minimum of 25 games played in 2019-20.

Rask finished the regular season with a Vezina Trophy finalist nomination, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games (41 starts), a 2.12 GAA, a .929 SV% and five shutouts in that span.

Halak went 18-6-6 in 31 games (29 starts) and had a 2.39 GAA, a .919 SV% and three shutouts prior to the pandemic cutting the regular season short.

Prior to opting out of the rest of the 2020 postseason due to a family medical emergency involving one of his daughters, Rask had a 1-3-0 record in four games (four starts) in the bubble with a 2.57 GAA and a .904 SV% in that span.

There is no blame for being a good parent and knowing that the right thing to always do is take care of your family first– even if your team is in the middle of what could be their last chance to win a Cup with their current core group of players.

The last time the league participated in a postseason in a pandemic, several players contracted the flu and one (Montreal Canadiens star, Joe Hall) died a few days after the 1919 Stanley Cup Final was called off from pneumonia as a complication from influenza.

Have some compassion, for once.

Halak, in the meantime, enters the Second Round as Boston’s starting goaltender with a 3-1-0 record in four games (four starts), as well as a 2.29 GAA and a .912 SV% in that span.

In the regular season, the Bruins went 1-2-1 against the Lightning, while the Bolts held a 3-1-0 record against Boston in the season series (their first game back on Oct. 17th being a, 4-3, shootout victory for Tampa).

Scoring was pretty even at a, 13-10, advantage for the Lightning across all four meetings, despite the Bruins outshooting the Bolts, 139-113, in the four games combined.

The two clubs are 1-1 all time in two previous postseason meetings, where Boston eliminated Tampa in seven games in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final and the Bolts returned the favor to the Bruins in five games in the 2018 Second Round.

Two years removed from Boston’s collapsed hopes of a deep run at the hands of the Lightning, the B’s made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, thanks to the Blue Jackets sweeping the Lightning in the 2019 First Round, then bowing out to Boston in six games in the 2019 Second Round.

These two Atlantic Division teams are more intertwined than average fan might think and a rivalry has sprung as of, well, really since that 2011 series.

The Bruins have struggled to handle the Lightning– especially within the last few seasons, at least.

With everything in mind, it’s also important to remember just how hard it is to go all the way back to the Stanley Cup Final after making it in the previous year– let alone make it out of the First Round after having five months off due to a pandemic.

If anything, it’s not that Bruins are an “aging team”– so are the Lightning at their core with each and every passing year that Stamkos and Co. have not won a Cup ring.

If anything, it’s that the Lightning simply are Boston’s Kryptonite like how the Montreal Canadiens once were before the 21st century.

Boston might be able to win a game or two, but Tampa should really have this series taken care of in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/SO TBL at TD Garden on Oct. 17th, 3-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Dec. 12th, 2-1 BOS at Amalie Arena on March 3rd, 5-3 TBL at TD Garden on March 7th

Schedule:

8/23- Game 1 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/25- Game 2 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 3 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/28- Game 4 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 7:30 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/30- Game 5 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

9/1- Game 6 TBL @ BOS in Toronto*

9/2- Game 7 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

*If necessary