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.