(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Washington Capitals
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Heinen
Kuraly – Coyle – Bjork
Nordstrom – Lindholm – Ritchie
Moore – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Vrana – Kuznetsov – Oshie
Hagelin – Eller – Panik
Leipsic – Dowd – Hathaway
Kempny – Carlson
Orlov – Jensen
Siegenthaler – Gudas
The Bruins got some bad news on Sunday when it was announced the Zdeno Chara would be out of the lineup against the Capitals. The reason stems back to some work that Chara had done on his jaw during the playoffs last season. He now has an infection in his jaw and needs surgery to remove the plates he had put in. John Moore slotted in on the first defensive pair in his absence.
Not what you want if you’re the Bruins against a Capitals team that you haven’t been able to figure out at home since last beating them on March 6, 2014. Regardless, the show had to go on without Chara as the Bruins looked to get back in the win column and end their losing skid. It was a milestone night for Danton Heinen, as this game marked the 200th of his career.
Things were pretty pedestrian to start before Nick Jensen took the first penalty of the game, as he went off for high sticking a minute and 30 seconds in. Unfortunately, they failed to score.
A second opportunity came when Radko Gudas went off for hooking. It didn’t take long to score this time as Jake DeBrusk buried a loose puck created by his own rebound. His persistence paid off for his ninth goal of the season, assisted by David Krejci (18) and Matt Grzelcyk (8). The Bruins were pushing the pace early, outshooting Washington 5-1 through the first seven minutes of the game.
The first Bruins penalty kill of the game came at 11:06 when Charlie McAvoy went off for tripping – and they killed it against the always terrifying Capitals power play. They weren’t satisfied with a one-goal lead, so Brad Marchand made it two by burying a rebound created by David Pastrnak. Marchand’s 19th goal of the season was assisted by Pastrnak (24) and McAvoy (13). It was Marchand’s first goal in 12 games, and he reacted accordingly, as one might do when they break a scoring drought.
That wasn’t all. Anders Bjork potted his sixth goal of the season just 27 seconds later. Charlie Coyle had the lone assist, his 12th of the season. Things got hectic real fast, in a good way.
Things got even crazier as Connor Clifton both went off at the same time – Clifton for slashing, Hathaway for cross-checking. A two minute 4-on-4 ensued. The extra open ice didn’t help a whole lot as neither team scored.
The Capitals went back on the penalty kill shortly after as Jakub Vrana went off for tripping, and Evgeny Kuznetsov went off for slashing. Patrice Bergeron used this 5-on-3 opportunity to extend his hot streak, potting his 14th goal. Pastrnak (25) and Krejci (19) had the helpers.
It was 4-0 Bruins with 1:03 to go and it stayed that way. Shots in the period were 11-8 in favor of the Bruins. That was one way to be efficient and if you can be one thing, you should be efficient.
Score: 4-0 Boston
Braden Holtby was pulled to start the period for Ilya Samsonov. Four goals on 11 shots will do that. Bjork nearly had his second of the game early on thanks to a chance on a partial break, but couldn’t get a good enough handle on the puck to make anything happen. DeBrusk went off for slashing to give Washington their second power play of the game. The Bruins went on to kill it off.
Krejci took a penalty of his own for tripping. On the delayed penalty, the puck, untouched eventually made its way into Washington’s net, but wasn’t counted as a goal even after a review of the play.
Bad news came when it was announced that Torey Krug was banged up after taking a hit from Tom Wilson.
The miscue by the referees following the Krejci penalty didn’t matter as much when Charlie Coyle scored the 100th goal of his career in shorthanded fashion. His seventh goal of the season came 6:55 in and was assisted by Marchand (34).
Despite having a huge lead, the Bruins were being outshot 11-1 through the first 14 minutes. Again, if you can be one thing, you should be efficient. I guess? Definitely not as much as the first period, but the sentiment stands. Washington’s dominance eventually broke through as Alex Ovechkin broke the shutout for Tuukka Rask with 5:25 remaining.
John Carlson took a slashing penalty not too long after Ovechkin’s goal, sort of throwing off any momentum the caps could have gained. Although the Bruins didn’t score, they made it to the locker room up four goals. Tuukka Rask was busy, making 16 saves in the period, 24 overall, while the team was outshot 17-2 in the period. The total shots were 25-13 in favor of Washington – they didn’t mess around after a rocky first period.
Score: 5-1 Boston
Torey Krug remained out of the game to start the third period. He was eventually ruled out with an upper-body injury, giving the Bruins just four defensemen for the rest of the game.
Another Bruins power play came thanks to a holding call on Ovechkin just about five minutes in. Grzelcyk was on the receiving end and was in some discomfort on the bench. No dice for the Bruins brought their power play efficiency to 33 percent (2/6) in the game.
Washington kept up their dominance in the shot category, holding an 8-2 advantage through eleven minutes. Up until this point, the Bruins had just four shots on goal since the start of the second period.
Tom Wilson decided it was a good idea to target Pastrnak after spearing him and make contact with the referee at the same time, for some reason. Pastrnak didn’t shy away. Wilson was given a two-minute minor and ten-minute misconduct as a result. Pastrnak received a roughing penalty of his own, and DeBrusk served a too many men on the ice penalty. Lars Eller redirected a shot in Rask’s grill past him to make it a 5-2 game with 4:31 remaining.
Samsonov was pulled early for an extra attacker and Krejci made good on potting an empty netter. Krejci’s eighth goal of the season was assisted by Sean Kuraly (10) with 3:10 remaining. Hathaway buried a late goal to make it 6-3 with 2:13 remaining.
T.J.Oshie launched himself into McAvoy late, injuring McAvoy in the process. Bergeron added another empty netter, unassisted for his second of the game and 15th goal of the season. A scrum ensued at the conclusion of the game and that was it.
The shots were 42-17 in favor of Washington. But the Bruins scored seven goals. Crazy how that works in a mess of a game like this, in a lot of ways. Rask made 39 saves in the win. It was the Bruins’ first home win against Washington since March 6, 2014. Next up are the Buffalo Sabres on the road at 7 PM ET on Friday. The Bruins now head into the Christmas break with a win at 22-7-9.