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.