By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
The Bruins were looking to win back-to-back games on Thursday night, facing old friend and captain Zdeno Chara and the Capitals. Jeremy Swayman was also looking for his second career NHL win in as many games after an impressive first appearance Tuesday night against the Flyers.
The Bruins came out flying in the first and were rewarded when a point shot by Jeremy Lauzon snuck its way through the legs of Ilya Samsonov and trickled into the Capitals net. The goal was Lauzon’s first of the season and set the tone for the Black and Gold to dominate the opening frame. They kept their foot on the gas pedal, with excellent shifts coming from the fourth line of Anton Blidh, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner. Swayman also came up big, making a huge breakaway stop on Garnet Hathaway to keep the Bruins up one goal.
Samsonov rebounded well for the Capitals after the soft goal early on, but fortunately for the Bruins, luck seemed to be in their favor. An attempt to shoot the puck around the glass by a Capitals defenseman hit a stanchion and careened in front of the net, where Blidh tucked it past an unsuspecting Samsonov for his first of the season.
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead into the second period, but not before some fisticuffs broke out between the Eastern Conference rivals. Nick Ritchie dropped the gloves with Garnet Hathaway with a minute to go in the period and pummeled Hathaway, winning the fight easily. Ritchie also received a two-minute minor penalty for slashing that would carry over into the second.
End of First Period: Bruins 2 – Capitals 0
Less than five minutes into the middle frame, struggling Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril took a tripping penalty, putting the Bruins a man down for two minutes. Not only did the Bruins kill the penalty, but Brad Marchand served up by far the highlight of the night by dangling through two Capitals defensemen before outwaiting Samsonov and depositing his 19th goal of the season shorthanded. The goal had Bruins twitter going crazy for good reason. I think most people would have a hard time not watching this goal more than once, if not on endless repeat.
The momentum seemed to change, however, when Anton Blidh was called for a slashing minor. Not only was he called for slashing, though, but he proceeded to give Lars Eller a little push which the referees saw as worthy of a two-minute roughing penalty. On the four-minute powerplay, Zboril was called for his second penalty of the game, this time an interference call, much to the dismay of NESN color commentator Andy Brickley.
On the ensuing 5-on-3 powerplay, the world’s best goal scorer struck in his trademark style. Alex Ovechkin fired a one-timer from his signature location that beat Swayman and cut the Bruins lead to 3-1. The goal moved Ovechkin into second place all-time on the NHL powerplay goals rankings, yet another scoring record the Great Eight is chasing.
Just 19 seconds after Ovechkin’s 20th of the season, T.J. Oshie scored almost an identical goal while still on the powerplay. The 2014 U.S. Olympic star’s 12th goal of the season made it 3-2 Bruins and made what seemed to be a game that was in Boston’s control suddenly seem like it was up for grabs again. If the first period was dominated by the Bruins, the second was just as dominant of a performance by the Capitals. The Bruins took their 3-2 lead into the intermission but were on the back foot and in need of another momentum shift.
End of Second Period: Bruins 3 – Capitals 2
The third period was relatively quiet for much of the period. Both teams traded chances but couldn’t quite generate any sustained momentum. Garnet Hathaway continued to be involved in the physical aspect of the game got tangled up with Brad Marchand on a neutral zone faceoff that saw both men sit for two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The matching minors created a 4-on-4 situation that opened the game up briefly. At the end of the two minutes, David Pastrnak picked up a loose puck and walked in on goal alone, but he couldn’t add a much-needed insurance goal.
The Bruins would get that insurance goal with just over three minutes remaining in the game. After Daniel Carr took a hooking penalty for the Capitals, the Bruins powerplay went to work. The first powerplay couldn’t convert, but the second powerplay did. After Charlie Coyle narrowly missed an in-tight chance, Craig Smith collected the loose puck and fired it past Samsonov before he could square himself to the shot.
Smith’s seventh of the season gave the Bruins all the insurance they would need. Despite the Capitals pulling the goalie with just over two minutes to go in regulation, Swayman and the Bruins’ defense stood tall and denied any scoring opportunities. With under 30 seconds to go, Marchand also provided the funniest moment of the game when he took a tripping call and proceeded to refuse to touch the puck, killing off precious time and helping to run out the clock on a 4-2 win.
The Bruins will be back in action for a Saturday matinee in Philadelphia against the Flyers. You can catch that game at 2:00 pm on NESN or ESPN+.