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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins thrash Capitals in, 7-3, road victory

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a pair of goals, but both players paled in comparison to Matt Grzelcyk’s five-point night (one goal, four assists) as the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals, 7-3, at Capital One Arena on Monday night.

Grzelcyk (1-4–5) became the first Bruins defender to score five points in a game since Ray Bourque (0-5–5) also had five points against the Capitals in an, 8-2, win at Boston Garden on Jan. 2, 1994.

Linus Ullmark (11-5-0, 2.57 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 16 games played) made 27 saves on 30 shots against in the win for Boston.

Washington goaltender, Zach Fucale (1-1-1, 1.74 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in four games played), stopped 12 out of 16 shots faced before being replaced by Vitek Vanecek almost midway in the second period.

Vanecek (6-4-5, 2.62 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 17 games played) had 12 saves on 15 shots in relief of Fucale for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 19-11-2 (40 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Capitals fell to 20-8-9 (49 points) overall despite holding onto 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s are now 1-0-0 against the Caps so far this season and went 4-2-2 against Washington last season.

Charlie McAvoy made his return to the blue line for Boston after missing the last two games due to a lower body injury.

McAvoy suited up alongside Grzelcyk in his usual spot on the first defensive pairing on Monday, while Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton joined Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.

As a result of Forbort and Clifton’s absence, Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore were made the de facto third pairing defenders in Washington, D.C.

Karson Kuhlman also made his return to action for the Bruins since being placed in COVID protocol on Jan. 1st and missing the last four games.

With Nick Foligno (lower body) out against the Capitals, Trent Frederic was promoted to the third line left wing role, while Curtis Lazar centered the fourth line and Kuhlman slid in on the right side.

In summary, the B’s were without Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID protocol), Steven Fogarty (taxi squad), Troy Grosenick (taxi squad), Jakub Zboril (right ACL), DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Clifton (COVID protocol) and Nosek (COVID protocol) on Wednesday.

DeBrusk is expected to be cleared from the league’s COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday and practice with the team and may be in the lineup on Wednesday as Boston plays host to the Montréal Canadiens.

Conor Sheary kicked things off with a right place, right time calculated effort as Nic Dowd dumped the puck off the endboards, whereby Ullmark misplayed the puck and Brandon Carlo was out of position as Sheary (9) picked up the loose puck and scored on a backhand shot.

Dowd (5) and Garnet Hathaway (6) tallied the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the game as the Capitals took a, 1-0, lead at 3:02 of the first period.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Grzelcyk was penalized for interference, yielding the night’s first power play to Washington at 8:33, though the Caps couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Grzelcyk, at first, didn’t do much to redeem himself on the night after giving the puck away to Sheary (10) in the slot for a one-timer goal of sorts over Ullmark’s glove after Grzelcyk returned from the box.

Sheary’s unassisted effort gave Washington a, 2-0, lead on his second goal of the game at 12:32 of the first period.

Before long, however, the Capitals became undisciplined.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was penalized for holding at 13:27 and the Bruins went on their first power play of the night as a result.

Boston got a two-skater advantage about a minute later when Dowd took a chunk off of Marchand’s nose with a high stick at 14:42– leaving Marchand bloody and Dowd with a double-minor infraction as a result.

The B’s earned a 5-on-3 power play for 43 seconds until that, too, was cut short by Patrice Bergeron bumping into Lars Eller without the puck.

Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for interference at 15:09 and the Bruins held onto a rare 4-on-3 advantage for about 15 seconds before the two teams played at 4-on-4 for a span of 1:42.

While Dowd was still in the box serving his double-minor, however, John Carlson delivered a swift cross check to Erik Haula’s backside and was penalized at 18:19 of the first period– yielding another 5-on-3 power play for Boston, albeit for 23 seconds.

It didn’t take long for the Bruins to strike, however, as Marchand setup Pastrnak (12) in his usual spot from the dot on the left side for a one-timed power-play goal– cutting into Washington’s lead, 2-1, at 18:34.

Marchand (20) and Grzelcyk (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

Less than a minute later, Marchand (15) received a pass from Grzelcyk and raced up the boards into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot that appeared to deflect off of Trevor van Riemsdyk’s stick and floated over Fucale’s shoulder on the far, blocker side, from the right dot.

Grzelcyk (9) and Pastrnak (14) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins tied it, 2-2, at 19:14 of the first period.

After one period, the B’s and Caps were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 11-10.

The Capitals also maintained an advantage in blocked shots (4-2), while Boston led in takeaways (3-0), giveaways (2-0), hits (10-9) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).

Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 2/4 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Anton Blidh fed Grzelcyk a lead pass from the neutral zone into the attacking zone before Grzelcyk (2) flung a shot from just past the blue line over Fucale’s glove side into the top corner of the net– giving the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2, in the process.

Blidh (4) had the only assist on Grzelcyk’s goal at 2:51 of the second period and the B’s never looked back as Grzelcyk earned his first career three-point night (that he would then extend into his first career five-point night).

Moments later, Bergeron made a save at the other end of the rink while blocking a shot driveway hockey style as Ullmark was down and out.

The Bruins surged in momentum and raced to their attacking zone whereby Lazar wrapped the puck around the net and slipped a pass through the slot to Craig Smith (4) for the one-timer goal.

Lazar (5) and Blidh (5) picked up the assists as Boston took a, 4-2, lead at 7:53 of the second period.

Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, then decided that four unanswered goals against was the perfect time to make a change in the crease– replacing Fucale with Vanecek.

It didn’t take Boston long to beat Vanecek as a warm welcome to the ice.

Taylor Hall and Pastrnak skated in on a 2-on-1 before Hall sent a pass over to Pastrnak (13) for a catch and release goal over Vanecek’s glove on the far side– top shelf– under the bar.

Hall (14) and Vaakanainen (2) notched the assists as Pastrnak recorded his second goal of the game and Boston’s fifth unanswered goal to take a, 5-2, lead at 8:54 of the second period.

Less than five minutes later, Haula (3) snapped a shot from about the faceoff circle over Vanecek’s glove– extending the Bruins’ lead to four goals at 13:09.

Hall (15) and Grzelcyk (10) were credited with the assists on Haula’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, past the midpoint of the night’s action.

Less than a minute later, Washington scored a fluke goal– ending Boston’s run of six unanswered goals, thanks to T.J. Oshie’s (5) deflection on a shot pass from Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin (28) and Kuznetsov (23) had the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals trailed, 6-3, at 14:06 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 6-3, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 22-21, in shots on goal. Both teams split shots on net in the second period alone, 11-11, however.

The Caps led in blocked shots (9-8), takeaways (7-4) and hits (24-18) after two periods, while Boston led in giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Washington was 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Prior to the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Frederic would not return to Monday night’s game with an upper body injury.

Not much happened in the final frame until the midpoint when Marchand (16) scored his second goal of the game after Smith’s initial shot rebounded to Marchand for a beautiful display of hand-eye coordination– batting the puck out of mid-air to his blade before slipping the rubber biscuit over Vanecek’s outstretched pad, but under the blocker.

Smith (7) and Grzelcyk (11) notched the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to four goals once more, 7-3, at 10:59 of the third period.

Marchand’s second goal of the game also marked the most goals in a game for Boston this season.

Late in the period, Hall tripped up Martin Fehervary, but the Capitals weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play at 18:55.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 7-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 31-30– including a, 10-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston exited Capital One Arena holding an advantage in giveaways (6-3) and faceoff win% (57-43), while Washington left their own ice leading in blocked shots (12-11) and hits (35-27).

The Caps finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 2/4.

The Bruins improved to 7-6-2 (3-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (2-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 14-1-0 (10-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington fell to 16-6-4 (9-2-2 at home) when scoring first, 7-4-3 (1-2-1 at home) when tied after one and 1-6-4 (0-3-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston returns home to host the Montréal Canadiens on Wednesday and begin a seven-game homestand. The Bruins will play host to the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks before hitting the road again in Colorado on Jan. 26th.

The B’s host Montréal and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights, Wednesday and Thursday before finishing the current week against the Predators on Saturday.

Wednesday night’s game against the Canadiens was originally scheduled to be at Bell Centre, but due to the rise of the Omicron variant and capacity limits across Canada, that game has been postponed and instead Boston’s meeting with the Habs originally scheduled for March 21st has been moved up.

Tickets for March 21st in Boston will be honored on Jan. 12th against Montréal.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bruins eliminate Capitals in five games, advance to Second Round

After 14 seasons with the Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Dec. 30, 2020. He left Boston better than he found it and the Bruins handed the captaincy from their former defender to Patrice Bergeron on Jan. 6, 2021.

As the National Hockey League produced a format for the 2020-21 regular season and 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs it was revealed that the Bruins and their ex would get to meet each other eight times over the course of the season and– as fate would have it– at least four mores times times in the playoffs.

On Sunday night, Bergeron shook hands with Chara after the Bruins defeated the Capitals, 3-1, in Game 5 and eliminated Washington on the road at Capital One Arena– winning the series 4-1.

Chara, a 44-year-old veteran of the game, now faces the question of whether to retire or whether to return to the ice– wherever it may be for one more run, one more chance at getting a second Stanley Cup ring and his first since winning with Boston in 2011.

For Bergeron and the rest of his teammates, the Bruins’ journey continues as the transition from the old guard gives way to the youth, experience and new characters that have emerged.

There was life before Chara for Bergeron, who made his NHL debut in the 2003-04 season as an 18-year-old, and there is life after Chara, who signed as free agent with the Bruins on July 1, 2006, and played in a spoked-B uniform until the bubble burst in the 2020 Second Round in five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Unlike the dissatisfying taste in the mouth of those involved in the Eddie Shore trade with the New York Americans in Jan. 1940, this time around– though there were likely tears shed over the departure of a fan favorite in Chara and a legend in Bruins franchise history– it seems there will be a happy ending sooner rather than later.

Shore never played for an NHL team after 1940, was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947, and subsequently had his No. 2 retired by Boston as a result after some amendments to strained relationships with Art Ross and others had been made– if not put aside for an evening, at least.

Chara won’t have to wait quite as long and there are no hard feelings to get in the way.

Whenever he retires, jot down the very first home game (as it should be) at TD Garden in that upcoming season to see his No. 33 raised to the rafters and add three years to the date from his retirement for eligibility to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Shore, Bobby Orr and other legends of the sport.

Tuukka Rask (4-1, 1.81 goals-against average, .941 save percentage in five games) made 40 saves on 41 shots against in the win for the Bruins on Sunday.

Capitals netminder, Ilya Samsonov (0-3, 2.99 goals-against average, .899 save percentage in three games played) stopped 16 out of 19 shots faced in the loss.

Boston became the fifth team since the start of the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs to win a best-of-seven series in four or more consecutive postseasons.

They joined the Capitals (4 postseasons from 2015-18), New York Rangers (4, 2012-15), Detroit Red Wings (5, 2007-11) and San Jose Sharks (4, 2004-08) in doing so.

Boston also improved to 13-10 all time in Game 5s when leading a series 3-1. The B’s are now 21-2 in best-of-seven series’ when they have a 3-1 series lead, as well.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jeremy Lauzon (upper body), Kevan Miller (upper body) and John Moore (hip) on Sunday with Steven Kampfer (arm) joining Moore on the list of B’s that won’t return before next season.

As a result of Miller missing Game 5 due to an injury sustained on a high hit from Dmitry Orlov in Game 4, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup from Friday night’s, 4-1, win to Sunday evening– inserting Jarred Tinordi in Miller’s spot on the third defensive pairing.

Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, meanwhile replaced Michael Raffl with Daniel Sprong on his third line alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov at center and Tom Wilson at right wing.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players for Game 5 included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller.

Just like in Game 4, there were no goals in the first period in Game 5 as the two teams traded penalties throughout the opening frame.

Both clubs were short a skater and played 4-on-4 for a pair of minutes when Garnet Hathaway and Taylor Hall received roughing minors at 5:09 of the first period.

The Capitals later had the first power play of the night when David Pastrnak tripped up Justin Schultz at 6:46.

Just as the Bruins got back to full strength, they went on the skater advantage as Wilson cross checked Jake DeBrusk and cut a rut to the penalty box at 8:47.

Late in the period, Brad Marchand roughed up John Carlson and was assessed a roughing infraction at 16:14, but Washington couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Nor could they prior to the end of the first period as Craig Smith tripped Alex Ovechkin at 19:31, though the skater advantage stretched into the middle frame.

After one period, the score remained tied, 0-0, while the Caps outshot the B’s, 10-9.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2), hits (12-7) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while the Capitals led in takeaways (3-1). Both teams had two giveaways each.

Washington was 0/3 on the power play, while Boston was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.

Mike Reilly sent a pass up to Pastrnak as No. 88 in black and gold proceeded to deke around Nic Dowd prior to cutting to the corner and pulling the NHL 94 wraparound the front of the slot move.

Pastrnak (1) slid the puck low around Samsonov’s left pad and gave Boston a, 1-0, lead at 2:28 of the second period.

Reilly (1) had the only assist on the goal and earned his first career Stanley Cup Playoff point in the process.

Less than a minute later, Sprong got a hold on Tinordi and was sent to the box as a result at 3:48.

The Bruins failed to convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the period, Pastrnak took a hit at the attacking zone blue line to make a play to Reilly who, in turn, gave it to Bergeron as Bergeron (2) entered the zone and wired a snap shot from the high slot below Samsonov’s blocker and into the back of the twine.

Reilly (2) and Pastrnak (4) tallied the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0, at 14:05 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Sunday night, Boston led on the scoreboard, 2-0, despite Washington holding the advantage in shots on goal, 30-13, including a, 20-4, advantage in the second period alone.

The Caps dominated in takeaways (7-2), giveaways (7-5), hits (24-19) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the B’s led in blocked shots (16-7).

Neither team had scored a goal on the power play through two periods as the Capitals were 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the skater advantage entering the second intermission.

Conor Sheary (1) scored on his own rebound off of a one-timed redirection 11 seconds into the third period to cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

T.J. Oshie (3) and Orlov (3) had the helpers on the goal as the Capitals jumped out to a hot start in the final frame.

Midway through the third, however, the Bruins rushed up the ice, had it broken up, but promptly forced a turnover that led to Bergeron (3) snapping a quick shot from the slot over Samsonov’s shoulder on the blocker side to give Boston another two-goal lead.

Bergeron’s unassisted goal made it, 3-1, for the Bruins at 12:25 of the third period.

Shortly thereafter, Reilly cross checked Oshie and was sent to the box at 12:45.

Washington thought they had a power-play goal to pull themselves back to within one as Lars Eller banked a shot off Rask and in from the goal line, but Kuznetsov had pushed Rask seconds prior to the would-be goal.

Despite Tinordi clearing Kuznetsov from the crease seconds later, Kuznetsov initiated the initial contact with the B’s goaltender and therefore negated the goal on the grounds of goaltender interference without a minor penalty attached to the play.

Late in the third, Sprong tripped Charlie McAvoy and presented Boston with one more power play at 16:18, but the Bruins took the opportunity to run the clock and play “keep away” from the Caps.

With 1:13 remaining in the action, Laviolette pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker but it was of no use.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 3-1, and eliminated the Capitals in five games.

Washington finished Sunday night’s effort on home ice leading in shots on goal, 41-19, including an, 11-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Caps also led in giveaways (9-5), hits (36-26) and faceoff win% (53-47), while Boston finished the action leading in blocked shots (19-14).

Neither team scored a power play goal in Game 5, as Washington went 0/4 and Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins won the series 4-1 and advance to the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result where they will face the other MassMutual NHL East Division series winner between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.

If Pittsburgh defeats New York in their series, the Penguins will have home ice in the Second Round. If the Islanders defeat the Penguins, the Bruins will have home ice in the Second Round.

In either case, as of May 29th, Boston will near or at full capacity at TD Garden in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening policy.

Fans in attendance will still have to wear a mask when they aren’t eating or drinking inside the stadium in accordance with the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bruins take commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 4 victory

The Boston Bruins are one win away from advancing to the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs after their, 4-1, win over the Washington Capitals at TD Garden Friday night in Game 4 of their First Round series.

David Pastrnak had the eventual game-winning goal as Tuukka Rask (3-1, 1.99 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in four games played) made 19 saves on 20 shots faced en route to a franchise record setting 54th career Stanley Cup Playoffs win– surpassing Gerry Cheevers’ previous mark of 53 postseason wins in a Bruins uniform.

Washington goaltender, Ilya Samsonov (0-2, 2.96 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in two games played), had 33 saves on 37 shots against in the loss.

Boston took a 3-1 series lead as a result of their victory on Friday night and improved to 17-17 overall in Game 4s when leading a series 2-1.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jeremy Lauzon (upper body) in Game 4. Lauzon has missed the last three games, while Kase and Moore have missed the entire postseason with Moore out until next season.

Bruce Cassidy made no changes to Boston’s lineup as a result.

The B’s had a long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players that included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

In the meantime, Lars Eller was back in the lineup for Washington after missing Game 3 with a lower body injury as Samsonov got his second consecutive postseason start.

One Bruin was half-stepping onto the bench, while another Bruin had just entered the action on a line change and landed a hit, but in the eyes of the on-ice officials, Boston had too many skaters on the ice.

The Bruins were assessed a bench minor for too many skaters 49 seconds into the first period and the Capitals went on the power play for the first time in the action.

Washington couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage, however, while Nick Ritchie served Boston’s bench minor.

Moments later, Charlie Coyle tripped up Nick Jensen as the Caps defender worked his way to the net.

The Bruins went back on the penalty kill at 5:51 and proceeded to deny Washington’s power play of getting a stronghold in both possession and on the scoreboard.

Late in the period, the Capitals presented Boston with their first power play of the night as Mike Reilly worked to get out of his own zone and was tripped up by Michael Raffl at 19:23.

The Bruins’ skater advantage would extend into the middle frame as the B’s couldn’t muster anything on the power play– despite ringing the iron– as the horn sounded to signal the start of the first intermission.

After one period of play, the score remained tied, 0-0, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 11-4.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (7-6) and takeaways (9-1), while both teams managed three giveaways each, 14 hits aside and were, 50-50, in faceoff win percentage after 20 minutes of action.

The Capitals were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The B’s couldn’t take advantage of the remaining 1:24 that they had on the power play while Raffl was in the box to kickoff the second period.

Early in the middle period, however, Taylor Hall got a breakaway and nearly scored while Samsonov was left looking a bit unnerved by a lower body ailment.

Samsonov stayed in the game, however.

Minutes later, Dmitry Orlov hit Kevan Miller up high after leaving his feet, which sent the Bruins defender backwards, falling head first into the ice.

Orlov was originally assessed a major penalty, but it was reduced after review to a double minor for roughing, meanwhile Miller was helped off the ice in the third consecutive night of head injuries across the league.

The Bruins provided an update prior to the third period that Miller was taken to a local hospital for scans and further evaluation.

Coyle retaliated and picked up a roughing minor as Orlov was sent to the box with his four-minute double minor for roughing and the B’s had a power play at 7:27 of the second period.

It didn’t take Boston long to find the back of the net on the ensuing skater advantage as Pastrnak ripped a shot from the faceoff circle that Brad Marchand (3) deflected from point blank past Samsonov.

Pastrnak (3) and Charlie McAvoy (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 8:00 of the second period.

Garnet Hathaway cut a rut to the sin bin for roughing against Patrice Bergeron at 11:01, but the Bruins failed to record a shot on net on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Jake DeBrusk slashed Anthony Mantha and was sent to the box at 14:03, presenting the Caps with another power play as a result.

The Capitals failed to convert while DeBrusk was in the box, but got another chance at the skater advantage when Bergeron sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 17:43.

That too, however, went unconverted.

Instead, Mantha interfered with McAvoy at 19:45 and presented Boston with another power play that would extend into the final frame.

The Bruins led, 1-0, after two periods of play and had the advantage in shots on goal, 23-13, including a, 12-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (14-8) and takeaways (12-3), while Washington led in giveaways (6-5), hits (25-21) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the second intermission.

The Caps were 0/4 and the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Pastrnak (1) sent a shot from the faceoff dot under Samsonov’s blocker into the back of the net to give Boston a, 2-0, lead 29 seconds into the third period.

McAvoy (4) and David Krejci (2) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal as the Bruins turned up the intensity to begin the third.

DeBrusk sent a shot off of Samsonov’s shoulder and high over the bar as the puck bounced off the glass and caromed to the side of the net where DeBrusk hacked at his own rebound before Coyle (1) pounced on the puck in the low slot to give Boston a three-goal lead.

DeBrusk (1) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal as a result and the Bruins led, 3-0, at 1:03 of the third period.

Tom Wilson just couldn’t resist watching the B’s score, so he decided to go at it with Ritchie after Coyle’s goal.

As a scrum ensued instead of celebrating, Brandon Carlo mixed it up a bit with Wilson and the three of them– Wilson, Ritchie and Carlo– received minor infractions.

Wilson and Ritchie went to the box for roughing, while Carlo earned an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction (it’s always the one that retaliates) at 1:03 of the third period.

In turn, the Capitals failed to record a shot on goal on the ensuing power play.

Marchand cut a rut to the box for interference at 4:16 and Washington wasted little time scoring on the resulting advantage.

Alex Ovechkin (2) one-timed a shot from his usual spot while breaking his stick and inadvertently sending the puck off of Carlo’s blade– deflecting the rubber biscuit past Rask.

John Carlson (2) and Nicklas Backstrom (1) tallied the assists on Ovechkin’s power-play goal as the Capitals trailed, 3-1, at 4:54 of the third period.

Shortly thereafter, while trying to capitalize on the swing in momentum, Ovechkin checked Marchand along the wall.

Pastrnak took exception to the hit and was sure to flatten Ovechkin seconds later as the Caps sustained pressure in the offensive zone, then Marchand hit Ovechkin in the open ice while the Capitals captain was still getting up from being knocked down by Pastrnak.

The Bruins nearly scored about a minute later as Curtis Lazar fed Pastrnak on a 2-on-1 that nearly resulted in a goal if it weren’t for Samsonov’s sprawling save.

Minutes later, Mantha went hard into the crease and beyond, yielding a minor infraction for goaltender interference at 13:31.

Boston capitalized on the resulting power play as Matt Grzelcyk (1) blasted a one-timer from the faceoff dot over Samsonov’s glove on the short side to give the Bruins a, 4-1, lead.

McAvoy (5) earned his third assist of the night, while Hall (1) picked up the secondary assist on Grzelcyk’s power-play goal at 14:50 of the third period.

Late in the period, Coyle sent the puck over the glass at the bench, except the only trouble was that his stick was below the top of the boards so it really shouldn’t have been a penalty, but nevertheless…

Boston killed off Coyle’s minor for delay of game at 16:22 as Washington struggled to keep the puck in the attacking zone.

Caps head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker to make the 5-on-4 a 6-on-4 advantage, but it was to no avail as the Bruins killed Coyle’s infraction and resumed play in a de facto shorthanded 6-on-5 situation.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-1, in Game 4 and taken a 3-1 series lead.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-20, including a, 14-7, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington wrapped up Friday night’s action leading in giveaways (9-6) and hits (38-34), while Boston led in blocked shots (17-11) and faceoff win% (56-44).

The Capitals went 1/7 on the power play, while the B’s were 3/5 on the skater advantage in Game 4.

Boston improved to 3-1 when tied after the first period, 2-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 1-0 when leading after two periods this postseason, while Washington fell to 1-3 when tied after one, 0-2 when allowing the game’s first goal and 0-1 when trailing after the second period in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins now lead the series 3-1 as the teams head back to Washington, D.C. for Game 5 Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is expected a little after 7 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can tune to USA Network for national coverage of the game, while those in Canada can choose between SN1 or TVAS2.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Smith lifts Bruins over Capitals, 3-2, in double OT

Craig Smith caught Ilya Samsonov mishandling the puck and wrapped around the net to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 series lead in their, 3-2, double overtime victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask (2-1, 2.27 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in three games played) made 35 saves on 37 shots faced in what became the 12th consecutive postseason game between the two clubs to be decided by one-goal.

Oh and the Bruins had not led all night until the final result.

Samsonov (0-1, 2.09 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in one game played), meanwhile, turned aside 40 out of 43 shots against in the loss for the Capitals.

Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jeremy Lauzon (upper body) on Wednesday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Monday night’s, 4-3, overtime win in Game 2 to Wednesday night’s Game 3.

The B’s had a long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players including, Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi on Wednesday.

At the other end of the rink, Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to the lineup for Washington, while Samsonov made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the crease.

Craig Anderson did not get the start in Game 3 due to “body maintenance” according to Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, while Lars Eller (lower body) missed Wednesday night’s action.

The Caps became the second team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to start three different goaltenders in the team’s first three postseason games, joining the 1986 Winnipeg Jets in doing so.

Alex Ovechkin was penalized for interference at 2:20 of the first period and presented Boston with the first power play of the night.

The B’s did not capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage, however, and followed suit with a pair of penalties of their one– Mike Reilly for high sticking at 7:38, as well as a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice at 10:34– shortly after killing off Reilly’s infraction.

Nick Ritchie served the bench minor as the Capitals failed to muster anything on back-to-back power plays.

Washington defender, Zdeno Chara, caught former teammate in Boston, Charlie Coyle, with a slash while the two battled for a puck in the corner of the Bruins’ attacking zone, yielding a power play for the B’s at 13:18.

Boston’s skater advantage soon became a 5-on-3 advantage as John Carlson sent the puck clear over the glass and induced an automatic delay of game minor at 14:24.

The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the two-skater advantage.

Finally, late in the opening frame, Sean Kuraly tripped Ovechkin and the Bruins were forced to kill off a minor infraction at 17:25.

Heading into the first intermission, the score was still tied, 0-0, despite Boston outshooting Washington, 10-4.

The Capitals dominated in just about everything else, leading in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (4-2), giveaways (5-4) and hits (13-12), while both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage in the first period, 50-50.

Both clubs were 0/3 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Early in the second period, Nic Dowd blocked a shot from David Pastrnak and briefly went down the tunnel after hardly putting any weight on one of his legs.

Dowd would return later in the period and, of course, score a goal, but first Brad Marchand took an unsportsmanlike minor at 6:56 of the second period, presenting the Capitals with another skater advantage opportunity.

Late in the ensuing power play, Washington worked the puck deep into the attacking zone while Ovechkin (1) snuck into the slot, received a pass and fired a one-timer far on the glove side and just under the crossbar.

Anthony Mantha (2) had the only assist on Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 8:21 of the second period and Washington jumped ahead, 1-0, in Game 3.

Less than a minute later, however, the Bruins responded as Smith setup Taylor Hall with a behind the back pass to No. 71 in black and gold as Hall (2) spun around counterclockwise in front of the crease, pulled the puck from his backhand to his forehand and roofed a shout over the blocker, top-shelf.

Smith (2) and Kevan Miller (1) tallied the assists as Hall tied the game, 1-1, at 9:17.

Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk caught Ovechkin with a high stick behind the Boston net and presented Washington with another power play at 15:45.

Shortly after killing Grzelcyk’s minor, the Bruins were caught in the vulnerable minute on a giveaway while botching an exit out of their own zone.

Garnet Hathaway fed Dowd with a shot pass under Reilly’s leg while the Bruins defender dove to breakup the passing lane that Dowd (2) redirected while crashing the slot to put the Capitals back in command, 2-1, at 18:15 of the second period.

Hathaway (1) had the only assist on the effort.

Through 40 minutes of action on Wednesday, the Caps led the B’s, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite Boston outshooting Washington, 21-20, in total shots on goal.

The Capitals, however, outshot the Bruins, 16-11, in the second period alone and led in blocked shots (9-6), takeaways (7-6) and hits (32-28), while Boston held the advantage in giveaways (8-7).

Washington was 1/5 on the power play, while the B’s were still 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Daniel Carr tripped Coyle at 3:25 of the third period, but the Bruins couldn’t get anything going on the resulting power play.

Boston had another chance on the skater advantage when Dowd caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick at 11:00 of the final frame of regulation and this time the B’s capitalized on the power play.

Marchand (2) batted the puck out of mid-air off of a deflection from Patrice Bergeron that can best be described as a flubbed shot and/or a whiff.

Anyway, Bergeron (1) and McAvoy (2) had the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal as the Bruins tied the action, 2-2, despite lacking a sustained offensive effort in the third period.

Through 60 minutes, the score remained even, 2-2, despite Washington outshooting Boston, 29-24, including a, 9-3, advantage in the third period alone.

The Capitals led in blocked shots (15-9), takeaways (12-8), hits (46-42) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the B’s led in giveaways (11-8).

Both teams were 1/5 on the power play heading into the first overtime period.

The refs had put their whistles away in the initial extra frame, yielding end-to-end action with more clutching and grabbing allowed as the two clubs swapped chances– though the Bruins dominated possession and shots on goal in the overtime alone.

Laviolette started Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Mantha, Dmitry Orlov and Carlson, while Cassidy countered with David Krejci, Smith, Hall, Reilly and Brandon Carlo at the opening draw in the extra frame.

After 80 minutes of high intensity skating, the Bruins and Capitals were still tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard, despite Boston holding the advantage in shots on goal, 41-34, including a, 17-5, advantage in the first overtime period alone.

Washington led in blocked shots (19-12), takeaways (15-11) and faceoff win% (52-48) through four peirods, while the B’s led in giveaways (12-9) and hits (58-55).

Both teams were still 1/5 on the power play heading into the second overtime period.

At the dawn of double overtime, Laviolette and Cassidy started the same lines that they had thrown out on the ice to kickoff the first overtime.

Backstrom, Wilson and Mantha were countered by Krejci, Hall and Smith.

On defense, Laviolette offered Brenden Dillon and Justin Schultz, while Cassidy tossed out Reilly and Carlo once more.

Marchand nearly ended it, then Pastrnak had a breakaway, but misfired as he took a stick to the midsection, then crashed into the endboards and was slow to get up.

He did not miss a shift, though, and no penalty was called.

Moments later, Samsonov misplayed the puck in the trapezoid assuming one of his defenders might scoop it up right as Smith never gave up on the play, however.

Smith (1) wrapped the rubber biscuit around the net and slid it behind the Caps netminder for the game-winning goal at 5:48 of the second overtime period.

The individual effort was unassisted and provided Boston with a 2-1 series lead thanks to their, 3-2, double overtime victory in Game 3 on Wednesday.

Yes, even after reaching double overtime, the game still managed to end before midnight thanks to a 6:30 p.m. ET start.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-37, despite being outshot, 3-2, in the second overtime itself.

Washington wrapped up the action leading in blocked shots (20-14) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Boston led in giveaways (12-10) and hits (60-57).

The two each clubs finished 1/5 on the power play.

The Bruins improved to 2-1 when tied after the first period, 1-1 when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-0 when trailing after two periods, 2-1 when tied after three periods and 1-0 when tied after the first overtime in this postseason.

The Capitals, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2 when tied after one, 1-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 0-1 when leading after two, 1-2 when tied after three and 0-1 when tied after the first overtime in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston leads the series 2-1 with the chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Friday night on home ice.

Puck drop at TD Garden is expected a little after 6:30 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while those in Canada have the option to choose from SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP or TVAS depending on where you live.

Categories
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*

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Trio of Bruins record pair of goals in eventful, 6-3, win over Capitals

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a pair of goals in a, 6-3, win for the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

A pair of milestones were met for both the team (21,000 goals) and Marchand (700 career points) as Tuukka Rask (10-4-2, 2.36 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 17 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against for Boston en route to the win.

Washington goaltender, Vitek Vanecek (17-9-3, 2.77 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 25-12-6 (56 points) and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals fell to 29-12-4 (62 points) overall and in command of the division lead.

Boston also improved to 4-1-2 against Washington this season with the win.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed), Jakub Zboril (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Grzelcyk may travel with the team this week as the B’s hit the road, while Miller remains day-to-day and Halak could rejoin the group on Monday at practice.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one lineup change on defense with Zboril out due to an illness, Jarred Tinordi took Zboril’s spot on the third defensive pairing for Boston.

Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Grzelcyk, Jack Ahcan, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller were on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players for Boston on Sunday, while Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Saturday.

Ahcan had been reassigned to Providence, but was recalled to the taxi squad on Saturday ahead of Sunday afternoon’s matinée matchup with Washington.

The Capitals were without Zdeno Chara (lower body) after he blocked a shot in Saturday’s, 6-3, win in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The former Bruins captain received a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first game back in Boston with fans on April 11th.

Dmitry Orlov hooked Marchand 35 seconds into the action Sunday afternoon, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play.

Boston did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Connor Clifton caught Lars Eller with a high stick that resulted in a four-minute double minor infraction. Washington had an extended power play at 8:53 of the first period as a result.

Late in the penalty kill, the Bruins worked the puck out of their own zone, whereby Capitals defender, John Carlson, went to battle along the endboards with Marchand for possession.

Marchand got just enough of a touch on the puck as Carlson chipped it off of the Bruins winger’s stick prior to the rubber biscuit deflecting to an open space in the slot whereby Bergeron (17) scooped it up and pulled it to his backhand for a shot that beat Vanecek and gave Boston the game’s first goal.

Marchand (30) had the only assist Bergeron’s shorthanded goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 12:02 of the first period on their eighth shorthanded goal this season– tying the Montreal Canadiens for the most in 2020-21.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci (4) received a pass through the low slot and one-timed a shot past Vanecek after Craig Smith and Clifton did a tremendous job working the puck low into the zone, then over to No. 46 in black and gold.

Clifton (6) and Smith (16) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal as the Bruins took a, 2-0, lead at 13:56.

Late in the period, Mike Reilly got beat while pinching at the blue line, thus leaving Charlie McAvoy as the lone B’s defender in his own zone, whereby Nicklas Backstrom waltzed around the young Boston skater with a deke before getting a shot on Rask.

T.J. Oshie (15) scored on the rebound to cut Boston’s lead in half and get the Capitals on the board, 2-1.

Backstrom (32) had the only assist on the goal at 19:50.

After the horn to signify the end of the first period, Garnet Hathaway delivered a late check on Jeremy Lauzon along the boards.

The Bruins did not take kindly to Hathaway’s rejection of the unwritten “code” and a scrum ensued.

Nic Dowd and Curtis Lazar each received roughing minors as a result, yielding penalties at 20:00 of the first period and a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 to start the middle frame.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Capitals, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3) and hits (16-13), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) after one period.

Both teams had one giveaway each, while the Caps were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Clifton caught Conor Sheary with a high stick at 2:53 of the second period and presented the Capitals with an extended power play as a result of Sheary going down to the ice with an injury, resulting in a double-minor infraction for the young Bruins defender.

Washington capitalized on the ensuing power play as Backstrom dished a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net for the setup to Oshie (16) for a one-timer over Rask’s glove on the short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Kuznetsov (17) and Backstrom (33) had the assists on Oshie’s second goal of the afternoon– and a power-play goal at that– at 3:48 of the second period.

About a minute later, Anthony Mantha (15) scored on a catch and release shot past Rask’s stick side while the Caps had a net front presence to screen the Bruins goaltender.

Orlov (8) and Eller (14) had the assists on Mantha’s power-play goal as the Capitals took the lead for the first time Sunday afternoon, 3-2, at 4:54.

The Bruins didn’t take long to respond, however, as Marchand (22) was fed a pass from David Pastrnak and beat Vanecek with a backhand shot to tie the game, 3-3, at 6:33.

Pastrnak (19) and Bergeron (22) had the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the game.

Midway through the period, Hathaway was assessed a holding minor at 13:55 and the B’s went on the power play as a result. Boston did not score on the resulting power play, however.

The Bruins caught the Capitals in the vulnerable minute after a skater advantage, though, as Krejci (5) received a pass and held the puck long enough for Orlov to dive and slide away before sending a quick shot over Vanecek’s glove side.

Smith (17) and Taylor Hall (18) notched the assists on Krejci’s second goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 4-3, at 16:02 of the second period.

About a minute later, Bergeron (18) had his second goal of the game on a one-timer from Pastrnak to give Boston another two-goal lead, 5-3, at 17:45.

Pastrnak (20) and Marchand (31) had the assists on the Bergeron’s goal, which marked the 21,000th goal in franchise history.

Late in the period, Rask had a broken stick and was playing with about half of a paddle and blade (goaltenders are allowed to play with a broken stick, for the record), which led to Reilly hooking Oshie to prevent Washington from establishing an attacking zone presence.

In the process, Reilly received a hooking minor and presented the Caps with a power play at 19:47 that would carry over into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play on Sunday, the Bruins led the Capitals, 5-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 25-20, in shots on goal, including an, 11-10, advantage for Washington in the second period alone.

The Caps held the advantage in hits (25-21), while the B’s led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Both teams had six blocked shots and two giveaways each, while the Capitals were 2/5 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tom Wilson caught Sean Kuraly while he was falling with a late hit that left Kuraly stunned and slow to get off the ice. There was no penalty on the play, similar to when Wilson knocked Carlo out of contention with a blindside hit on March 5th.

Carlo has missed 20 games since, despite appearing in one game on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a, 4-1, loss.

Tinordi was the only player heading to the penalty box for roughing Wilson in response to his hit on Kuraly on Saturday. Washington went on the power play at 5:52 of the third period, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Hathaway boarded Tinordi– cutting the Bruins defender open in the process as his visor smacked the boards first.

Initially, there was no call, nor a whistle for Tinordi while he bled out on the ice.

Divine intervention from the NHL’s office in Toronto, however, delivered a five-minute major penalty for boarding, as well as a match penalty for Hathaway– ending the Capitals forward’s afternoon early.

Boston went on the power play at 9:21 as Daniel Sprong skated to the sin bin to serve Hathaway’s major, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Washington’s penalty kill and Vanecek in the extended skater advantage.

With 2:18 remaining in the action, Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

Boston worked the puck free from their own zone, whereby Pastrnak hit Marchand with a pass through the neutral zone.

Marchand (23) looked to make a move to Bergeron for the hat trick, but settled for an empty net goal for himself at 18:16– assisted by Pastrnak (21) in the process and completing a four-point game for No. 63 in black and gold.

The empty net goal also marked the 700th career point for Marchand– becoming the ninth player in a Bruins uniform to record at least 700 points in franchise history in the process– as the B’s led, 6-3.

At the final horn, Boston had beaten Washington, 6-3, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 33-28.

The Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-46), while the Capitals ended the action leading in giveaways (6-2) and hits (33-28).

Washington finished the game 2/6 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Despite their lack of power play success on Sunday, the Bruins extended their winning streak to four games.

Boston also improved to 17-4-3 (9-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 14-0-2 (8-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-0-2 (11-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Washington fell to 9-8-2 (4-4-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-1 (1-5-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 2-9-0 (0-5-0 on the road) when losing after the second period in 2020-21.

After going 4-1-0 in their five-game homestand, the Bruins hit the road for the next five games including three stops in Buffalo and two stops in Pittsburgh before returning home to close out the month of April on the 29th against the Sabres.

Boston’s week ahead features stops in Buffalo on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before heading to Pittsburgh next week.

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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

Bruins rout Caps, 5-1, lose Carlo to head injury

The Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals, 5-1, Friday night at TD Garden after Capitals forward, Tom Wilson, delivered an unpenalized hit to the head of Bruins defender, Brandon Carlo, sparking an electric response on the scoreboard for Boston.

Jarred Tinordi and Trent Frederic each had a scrap with Wilson in a bout of “vigilante justice” because of one player that showed a lack of respect for “the code” and has once again threatened the career of another player with what is likely a head injury.

Bruins forward, Brad Marchand, had some strong words regarding Wilson’s hit during the first intermission, leading the New England Sports Network (NESN) to have to utilize a couple of drops to avoid facing scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

NESN aired Marchand’s interview in full after coming back from a break in the second period after the production truck had enough time to mute a pair of expletives.

Meanwhile, Jarsolav Halak (5-2-1, 2.24 goals against average, .913 save percentage in eight games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots against for a .969 SV% in the win for the B’s.

Capitals goaltender, Vitek Vanecek (10-5-3, 2.83 GAA, .906 SV% in 19 games played) stopped 14 out of 18 shots faced for a .778 SV% in 35:43 time on ice before being replaced by Ilya Samsonov (2-0-1, 2.87 GAA, .877 SV% in four games played) made six saves on seven shots against (.857 SV%) for no decision in relief of Vanecek.

The Bruins improved to 13-5-3 (29 points) and moved into 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Caps fell to 13-6-4 (30 points) and 2nd place in the division.

Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) on Friday.

Charlie Coyle, however, made his return from COVID protocol and as a result was reunited on the third line with Frederic on his left wing and Craig Smith on his right wing.

Jake DeBrusk was promoted to the right side of the second line, while Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Chris Wagner made up the fourth line.

Sean Kuraly joined John Moore as a healthy scratch, while Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen and Callum Booth were listed on the taxi squad.

Bruce Cassidy made no changes to his defense.

Early in the opening frame, Charlie McAvoy tried to hit Garnet Hathaway, but bounced off the Washington forward as Hathaway anticipated and met McAvoy with an equal and opposing force.

McAvoy slammed against he boards by the bench and smacked the ice, yielding a quick trip down the tunnel for a cut above his right eye likely caused by his visor.

Late in the period, Marchand (11) snuck into the low slot and received a pass from Patrice Bergeron before sending a backhand shot over Vanecek’s glove to give Boston the game’s first goal.

Bergeron (13) and McAvoy (13) had the assists as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 14:21 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Coyle yielded the first power play of the game to the Capitals after he caught Dmitry Orlov with a slash at 14:42.

Washington was not able to convert on their first skater advantage of the night.

Moments later, Wilson made a couple of runs at Frederic, catching the ire of the young Bruins forward.

Then Wilson caught Carlo up high in the corner to Rask’s right side behind the goal line with enough force to bash Carlo’s head off the glass before Jakub Vrana delivered a shift cross check above the shoulders while Carlo immediately clutched the sides of his head and collapsed in a heap.

Wagner grabbed Wilson as every remaining skater one the ice paired up.

There was no penalty on the call, which left Cassidy visibly irate on the bench and others on Boston’s bench audibly displeased.

Wilson was a free man and the threshold– as well as potential for more chaos– was established. In simple terms, it was the most glaring example of what not to do as an on-ice official.

It might not have been charging, but it could’ve been boarding.

It might not have been immediately clear that there was head contact or that Carlo was in a vulnerable position– let alone that Wilson had plenty of time and space to deliver and proper body check, but instead the refs made no call and implied that, in return, Wilson was free game.

Not only was player safety compromised for Carlo, but it would be compromised for Wilson too in the eyes of retribution if it had reared its head.

Let alone the next player Wilson might go on to hit.

Regardless, the Bruins entered the first intermission taking not only a hit to their defense, but a dent in their momentum, despite leading, 1-0, on the scoreboard.

Washington led, 12-8, in shots on goal, as well as in giveaways (5-2) and hits (12-6), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3).

Both teams had three takeaways. The two clubs were 50-50 in faceoff win percentage.

The Capitals were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Boston tweeted that Carlo (upper body) would not return to Friday night’s action before the second period began.

Brenden Dillon was penalized for roughing 20 seconds into the second period after a stoppage in play and presented the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night.

Boston did not score on the resulting skater advantage.

Moments later, Tinordi squared off in an exchange of fisticuffs with Wilson– marking the first of two fights of the night featuring No. 43 in a Capitals road uniform.

Each player received five-minute fighting majors at 6:12 of the second period.

It was the eighth fight this season for Boston and the first since Nick Ritchie fought Brendan Lemieux at 20:00 of the third period at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Feb. 28th.

While Wilson was in the box, Frederic (3) redirected a shot pass from McAvoy into the open twine as Vanecek was screened by net front traffic.

McAvoy (14) and Smith (5) tallied the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to two-goals, 2-0, at 6:43 of the second period.

Wilson was still in the box as Boston’s first line worked its magic on a “tic-toc-goal” at 9:01, extending their lead to three-goals thanks to Bergeron (9).

David Pastrnak (10) and Marchand (15) notched the assists on Bergeron’s goal as the B’s took a, 3-0, lead.

Late in the period, Marchand (12) added his second goal of the game while on the doorstep of the crease behind the Washington netminder as Vanecek wasn’t able to track another close range shot pass that made it, 4-0, Boston.

Matt Grzelcyk (4) had the only assist on Marchand’s second of the night at 14:58.

Caps head coach, Peter Laviolette, made the decision to replace Vanecek with Samsonov thereafter.

The Bruins went into the second intermission with a four-goal lead and a, 10-8, advantage in shots in the second period alone, despite trailing the Capitals, 20-18, in total shots on goal through 40 minutes.

Boston led in blocked shots (8-6) and faceoff win% (62-38), while Washington held the advantage in takeaways (8-7), giveaways (11-6) and hits (25-18).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play entering the final frame.

David Krejci found Ritchie (8) for a one-timer goal past Samsonov’s glove to kick things off at 1:05 of the third period, extending Boston’s lead to five-goals.

Krejci (11) and DeBrusk (4) tabbed the assists as the Bruins led, 5-0.

Seconds later, Frederic and Wilson dropped the gloves with the first-year Boston forward wracking up an instigator minor and an automatic 10-minute misconduct to go along with his five-minute fighting major.

Wilson managed to accrue fewer penalty minutes for knocking someone out of the game with a high hit to the head (zero) than he did in his second fight of the night (five).

Smith served Frederic’s instigating minor at 1:12 of the third period and the Capitals did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Wilson and Frederic’s fight marked the ninth fighting major of the season for Boston.

Moments later, T.J. Oshie caught Pastrnak with a high stick at 3:27, but the B’s did not score on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.

A little past the midpoint of the third period, Vrana (8) sniped a shot from the faceoff dot on a catch and release play past Halak’s blocker side disrupting the shutout in the process.

Nicklas Backstrom (16) and Oshie (10) nabbed the assists as the Capitals trailed, 5-1, at 13:36 of the third period.

Backstrom, meanwhile, earned his 700th career assist with the primary assist on the goal and became the first player in Washington’s franchise history to reach the 700-assist plateau.

No. 19 for the Caps was a first-year player back in 2007-08, and has spent his entire 979-game career with Washington– the team that drafted him 4th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft.

After another scrum that featured current Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, being restrained by current Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, Wagner caught No. 33 for the Caps with a slash at 18:40 in the dying minutes of Friday night’s action.

Wagner cut a rut to the penalty box, while Washington couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage to close out the game.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-1, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 32-25, including a, 12-7, advantage in the third period alone for Washington.

The Bruins also wrapped up the night’s action leading in blocked shots (9-7) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Capitals ended the 60-minute effort leading in giveaways (15-8) and hits (34-22).

Washington went 0/3 and Boston went 0/2 on the power play on Friday as the Bruins handed the Caps their most lopsided loss of the season– snapping the Capitals’ four-game winning streak in the process.

Carlo was taken to a local hospital by ambulance after being hit by Wilson.

After the game, Cassidy offered his thoughts on Wilson’s hit.

“You can see it,” he told reporters via Zoom, “He hits him in the head. [It was a] [p]redatory hit from a player who’s done that before.”

Cassidy continued, “We felt it was completely unnecessary, dirty,” and added that he didn’t know whether Carlo was going to stay overnight in the hospital or even if he had been concussed at that point.

“You can probably make your own call on that one, considering the hit was directly to his head.”

Laviolette offered a different point of view, explaining (neither in defense, nor in terms of throwing his own player under the bus),

“I saw the hit. His feet were on the ice, he stayed down with everything. Just looked like a hard hit in the corner. Not exactly sure what happened, but to me, it looked like just a hit.”

Laviolette also mentioned after the game that he hadn’t received any indication that the league would be wanting to talk to Wilson about the hit on Carlo.

Bruins newcoming defender in just his second game with the club since being claimed off waivers on Sunday, Tinordi called the hit “risky” and added, “You’ve got to hold up there.”

“That’s what I noticed about this team as soon as I got here. The boys are playing for each other night in and night out,” Tinordi observed of his new teammates, remarking on Bergeron’s tap of the glass in front of him after scoring a goal while Tinordi sat in the penalty box having just fought Wilson.

“We did the job and took care of business on the ice,” Marchand told reporters after the game.

“If the refs are able to look at [Wilson’s hit on Carlo on video review], that’s a suspension and he’s gone from the game,” Marchand continued, “We can review if a guy’s foot is half an inch offside, but we can’t review a headshot.”

“I’ve been guilty of it in the past. But it is something you don’t wanna see happen. But he was in a bad spot and Wilson took advantage.”

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak, meanwhile, have 437-563–1,003 combined totals in the last five years– becoming just one of two trios in the league in that span to collect over 1,000 combined points, joining Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers in doing so.

The Bruins improved to 9-2-1 (5-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while the Capitals fell to 5-3-2 (2-2-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The B’s also improved to 7-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 8-0-0 (5-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

Washington, meanwhile, fell to 2-4-1 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-4-0 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period this season.

Boston finishes up their three-game homestand (1-0-1) on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils before hitting the road for one game on Long Island next Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

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

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

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

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

The score remained, 0-0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oshie responded with a shot that Rask gloved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.