John Carlson scored the game-winning goal moments after the Boston Bruins tied the game in the third period Wednesday night as the Washington Capitals defeated the B’s, 3-2, at Capital One Arena.
Braden Holtby (16-3-4 record, 2.80 goals against average, .911 save percentage in 24 games played) made 30 saves on 32 shots against for a .938 SV% in the win for the Capitals.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (7-3-3, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 13 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced for an .880 SV% in the loss.
Boston fell to 20-6-6 (46 points) on the season, but remains in command of 1st place in the Atlantic Division.
Meanwhile, Washington improved to 23-5-5 (51 points) and remained atop the Metropolitan Division.
The Bruins fell to 8-5-1 on the road this season and are now on a four-game losing streak.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) against Washington on Wednesday.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes to his lineup from Monday night’s, 5-2, loss in Ottawa.
First, Cassidy swapped Brett Ritchie with Danton Heinen on the third line– reuniting Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Heinen on the third line, while promoting Ritchie to the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and David Krejci at center.
Finally, on defense, Connor Clifton went back into the lineup on the third pairing in place of John Moore.
Moore was joined by Par Lindholm and David Backes as Boston’s healthy scratches on Wednesday.
Midway through the opening frame, David Pastrnak (26) scored the game’s first goal after not scoring in his last four games.
Charlie McAvoy (10) and Brad Marchand (29) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the NHL’s leading goal scorer went off the bar and in over Holtby’s glove at 9:36 of the first period to give the Bruins the, 1-0, lead.
Less than a minute later, after Tom Wilson got a cross check up high on Zdeno Chara, the B’s captain dropped the gloves with the Caps winger and landed a few big blows before wrestling the forward to the ice.
Chara and Wilson each received five-minute majors for fighting at 10:14, while Wilson received an additional two-minute minor for cross checking that was served by Brendan Leipsic.
It was the 6th fight this season for Boston and the first since Moore fought Zack Smith against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 5th.
The Bruins did not score on the ensuing power play.
Jakub Vrana tripped up Torey Krug moments later at 14:17 and the B’s went back on the skater advantage for the second time of the night.
Boston thought they scored and had made it a two-goal game when Patrice Bergeron received a quick drop pass from DeBrusk and pocketed the rubber biscuit in the twine while Holtby outstretched his paddle, but Washington’s head coach, Todd Reirden, used his coach’s challenge to determine whether or not the Bruins entered the zone offside.
After review, it was determined that DeBrusk had entered the zone with his skate in the air over the blue line– something that’s not good enough for now in the current interpretation of the rule, but perhaps going to be resolved next season– and the call on the ice was overturned. No goal. Do not pass “go”. Do not collect $200.
In the final minute of the period, Joakim Nordstrom caught Nicklas Backstrom with a high stick at 19:26.
Washington’s power play carried over into the second period as the Capitals couldn’t convert on the skater advantage with 34 seconds left before the first intermission.
After 20 minutes of action in D.C., the B’s led the Caps, 1-0, on the scoreboard.
Shots on goal were even, 8-8, but the Bruins had the slight advantage over the Capitals in all the other major statistical categories, leading in blocked shots (7-4), giveaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42).
Washington led in takeaways (7-3) and hits (11-9) heading into the second period.
The Caps were 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage.
Early in the middle frame, Washington had too many skaters on the ice, yielding a bench minor in the process at 1:31 of the second period.
Once more, the Bruins were held powerless on the power play, however.
Seconds after their legal skater advantage ended, Chris Wagner was charged with interference at 3:48 and the Capitals went on the power play.
T.J. Oshie (12) followed a rebound and poked the puck into the net while Halak reached behind himself in desperation.
Oshie’s goal tied the game, 1-1, and was assisted by Carlson (33) at 4:35 of the second period.
Less than four minutes later, Oshie (13) again broke free of Boston’s defense by deking through Clifton and scoring a backhand goal over Halak’s blocker side to give the Capitals their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 8:05.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (19) and Vrana (13) had the assists on Oshie’s 2nd goal of the game.
Late in the period, Coyle was assessed a holding penalty at 17:28, but the Bruins managed to kill off the minor and escaped without harm while Washington was on the skater advantage.
Through two periods of play, the Capitals led the Bruins, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the B’s advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, 15-6.
Boston led in total shots on net, 23-14, as well as blocked shots (12-8), giveaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (57-43).
Meanwhile, Washington led in takeaways (11-5) and hits (28-12).
The Caps were 1/3 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/3 heading into the third period.
Wilson interfered with Pastrnak 19 seconds into the third period and was penalized as such, but the Bruins didn’t score on the power play.
Less than a minute after their power play expired, the B’s found the back of the net and tied the game, 2-2, when Krug fired a shot from the point off a faceoff that Sean Kuraly (3) deflected from the faceoff dot to the right of Holtby.
Krug (16) had the only assist on Kuraly’s goal at 2:53 of the third period and surpassed Glen Wesley for 5th place in overall scoring for a Bruins defender in franchise history.
Ray Bourque leads all Boston defenders with 1,506 career points in a B’s sweater, followed by Bobby Orr (888), Chara (479), Brad Park (417) and Krug (308).
The game wasn’t tied for long before Carlson (12) blasted a one-timer while pinching in from the point to give the Capitals a, 3-2, lead at 4:42.
Backstrom (16) and Wilson (10) had the assists on Carlson’s goal and Washington never looked back for the rest of the game.
Though Carlsson was penalized for tripping Pastrnak at 6:04, Boston’s power play had nothing going for it and once again was unsuccessful.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Ritchie got tangled up with Garnet Hathaway after a whistle and the two players received roughing minors at 10:13– resulting in two-minutes of 4-on-4 action.
With 1:43 remaining in the game, Cassidy utilized his timeout and pulled Halak for an extra attacker after a stoppage in play.
The Bruins were not successful in tying the game and forcing overtime as the final horn sounded– sealing the deal on Washington’s, 3-2, victory.
Boston finished the night with the advantage in shots on goal, 32-25, despite trailing in the third period alone, 11-9, to Washington.
The B’s finished Wednesday night leading in blocked shots (18-15), giveaways (15-9) and faceoff win% (59-41), while the Caps led in hits (40-20).
Washington went 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston finished the night 0/5 on the power play.
The Bruins have lost 16 out of their last 17 games against Washington, while the Capitals are 24-0-0 in games against Boston when Backstrom earns at least a point since he entered the league in the 2007-08 season.
The Bruins are now 11-2-0 when leading after the first period and 13-4-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season. They are also 4-5-3 when trailing after two periods thus far.
Boston continues their four-game road trip (0-2-0) Thursday in Tampa with a matchup against the Lightning before wrapping up their current road trip in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday against the Panthers