T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson had the only goals for the Washington Capitals as they beat the Boston Bruins, 2-1, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario in Sunday afternoon’s final Eastern Conference Round Robin matchup.
Braden Holtby (1-1-1 in three games played, 1.98 goals against average, .925 save percentage this postseason) made 30 saves on 31 shots against for the .968 SV% in the win for the Capitals.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (0-2-0 in two games, 2.54 GAA, .917 SV% this postseason) stopped 23 out of 25 shots faced for a .920 SV% in the loss.
Boston fell to 0-3-0 in the Round Robin tournament to determine the seeding for Eastern Conference matchups in the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Washington improved to finish 1-1-1 in Round Robin action.
As a result, the Caps will face the New York Islanders in the First Round, while the Bruins will square off with the Carolina Hurricanes in a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
Ondrej Kase made his Round Robin debut for Boston in the club’s final matchup before the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing their exhibition meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as their two prior Round Robin matchups with the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kase joined the team in Toronto a few days after the club arrived in time for Phase 4 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan began.
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak were all “unfit to participate” in practice on Friday, but rejoined the Bruins at practice on Saturday as expected after B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, tipped his hand to reporters in Friday’s media session.
Cassidy made a few minor changes to his lineup from last Wednesday’s, 3-2, loss to the Lightning to Sunday’s matinee with the Capitals.
Jake DeBrusk returned to the left side of the second line with Krejci at center and Kase on the right wing, while Nick Ritchie was bumped down to the left side on the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.
On defense, Cassidy gave Matt Grzelcyk the afternoon off and slid Jeremy Lauzon in Grzelcyk’s place, while giving time to Connor Clifton on the right side of third defensive pairing.
Boston’s long list of scratches on Sunday included Zach Senyshyn, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Maxime Lagace, Grzelcyk, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Dan Vladar, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.
Almost midway into the opening frame, the Capitals finally recorded their first shot on goal at 9:09 of the first period after Boston spent much time in their attacking zone.
Moments later, Washington defender, Dmitry Orlov, was penalized for holding Bruins forward, David Pastrnak, and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the afternoon at 13:34.
Boston’s power play was powerless as Washington’s penalty kill was dominant and killed off Orlov’s minor.
About a minute after Boston’s skater advantage came to an end, Clifton reacted to a slash from Evgeny Kuznetsov and the two players were sent to the penalty box at 17:11 of the first period– Clifton for cross checking, Kuznetsov for slashing.
After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams resumed 5-on-5 play and the seconds ticked down towards the first intermission.
Well, they would have anyway, if it weren’t for Oshie’s (1) lucky bounce and ensuing poke check that resulted in a, 1-0, lead for the Caps with 16 seconds remaining in the period.
Rask made the initial save as the puck rebounded off his pad, then deflected off of Zdeno Chara’s stick right within reach of Oshie for the unassisted goal at 19:44.
Washington entered the first intermission with the, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston, 6-2, in shots on goal.
The Capitals held the advantage in blocked shots (8-4) and hits (16-8), while the Bruins led in takeaways (4-2), giveaways (5-3) and faceoff win percentage (63-37) entering dressing room after 20 minutes of action.
The B’s were 0/1 on the power play, while the Caps had yet to be on the advantage heading into the middle frame.
Ilya Kovalchuk kicked off the second period with a hooking infraction against Torey Krug at 2:31 of the middle period, yielding the second power play of the game to the Bruins.
Once more, however, Boston’s power play was ineffective.
Almost midway through the middle frame, Brandon Carlo hooked Jakub Vrana at 7:01 of the second period and presented the Capitals with their first skater advantage of the game.
Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.
A little over eight minutes later, DeBrusk was penalized for holding the stick at 15:29– sending the Capitals on their second power play of the game.
Washington wasn’t able to convert on the skater advantage, though, and play resumed at even strength once Boston’s penalty kill successfully killed off DeBrusk’s minor infraction.
At the end of the period, Sean Kuraly and Oshie got into a bit of a heated exchange that didn’t result in fisticuffs, but yielded matching roughing minor penalties– officially at 20:00 of the second period.
The two teams would start the final frame 4-on-4 for two minutes before resuming 5-on-5 action.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Capitals led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailed the Bruins, 16-15, in shots on goal despite holding the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-10.
Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-8) and hits (22-19), while Boston led in takeaways (8-4), giveaways (13-5) and faceoff win% (61-39).
Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the dressing room for the second intermission.
Washington jumped out to a two-goal lead early in the final frame thanks to Wilson’s (1) quick break into the attacking zone and lob shot over Rask’s glove side from point blank.
Ilya Kovalchuk (1) and Michal Kempny (1) tallied the assists on Wilson’s goal and the Capitals led, 2-0, at 2:49 of the third period.
Almost midway through the third period, Charlie McAvoy tripped up Richard Panik and received a minor penalty for tripping at 7:29, but the Caps didn’t get a power play out of the infraction as Panik was sent to the sin bin as well with an embellishment minor.
After two minutes at 4-on-4, the score remained, 2-0, Capitals and the two teams resumed full strength action.
Just past the midpoint of the third period, however, DeBrusk (1) one-timed a shot through Holtby’s five-hole while crashing the slot after stepping over the puck and receiving the pass from Kase.
Kase (1) and Krejci (1) were credited with the assists and the B’s cut the lead in half, 2-1, at 10:30 of the third period.
After that, nothing else happened.
No goals, no penalties, but a bunch of saves by each goalie.
With one minute remaining in the game, Rask vacated his net for the extra attacker, but even after Boston used their timeout after a stoppage with 34.3 seconds left in regulation, the Bruins couldn’t tie the game and force overtime.
At the final horn, the Capitals had won, 2-1, and finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (21-14) and hits (31-24).
The Bruins finished the game leading in shots (31-25), giveaways (19-12) and faceoff win% (64-36).
Both teams finished the afternoon 0/2 on the power play.
The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round start Tuesday with the full schedule yet to be announced.