By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Boston Bruins are back in action today for a matinee game against the second wild-card team, the Washington Capitals. The Bruins are coming off an overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday where Jake DeBrusk scored the only regulation goal and made a great effort defensively and offensively in the sudden-death OT session to secure the extra point. 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, the Bruins look to sweep the season series over the Caps tonight and come one step closer to clinching a playoff berth.
Washington has found recent success of their own as well, winning their last two games over the Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. The Capitals are 6-4-0 in their last ten games and with a comfortable 13-point lead on the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot, they’re looking to keep up the momentum in the race for the postseason.
Arena: Capital One Arena – Washington, D.C., USA
Home: Washington Capitals (39-22-10)
Away: Boston Bruins (45-21-5)
Bruins’ Last Game: 2-1 OT win vs TBL
Bruins’ Gameday Lineup:
Bruins defenceman Hampus Lindholm (lower body), defenceman Connor Clifton (scratch), and forward David Pastrnak (undisclosed) are out. Defenceman Josh Brown is in.
Five minutes into the game, not a lot has happened with some back-and-forth racing down the ice. Neither goaltender has had to deal with much of anything as the shots favor the Bruins two shots to zero. Not long afterward, the Bruins’ fourth line gets the puck deep in the Washington zone which leads to Nick Foligno making a great effort to find Charlie McAvoy in the high slot whose shot gets stopped up high by Vanecek.
At the 12:59 mark of the first period, a chance comes in front of Trent Frederic off a Mike Reilly rebound and he hits the puck into the goal with his skate. Officials call it a no-goal due to a kicking motion on the ice and after a short review, it’s made clear that it is an illegal goal – game remains tied at zero.
Capitals are very good at turnaround offense and after a poor breakout from Forbort, Evgeny Kuznetsov brings it right back into the Bruins zone in a one-on-one situation against McAvoy but Linus Ullmark stands strong and makes a huge glove stop on the wrist shot. Great save to prevent the game’s first tally.
Bruins get a great chance past the halfway mark, though, as McAvoy rips a wrist shot from the point that deflects of traffic in front of the net and hits Brad Marchand’s stick to the right of Vitek Vanaeck. Marchand rips the quick shot immediately, but the Caps goaltender makes the save with his body. Both netminders making some big saves early as the offensive chances start to add up.
8:13 left in the opening frame and the Bruins get the game’s first power-play. Nic Dowd gets a high-stick up to the face of Josh Brown and he’ll sit for two minutes. A couple of decent opportunities in front of the net from the first unit creates some traffic but then some poor passes and missed nets leads to a lackluster man advantage and we’re back to even-strength.
Charlie McAvoy is having a brilliant first period of this game, receiving a Tomas Nosek feed before toe-dragging just enough around a Capitals defender to get a shot on Vanecek who holds for a whistle. Second recorded shot of the game already for McAvoy with a few that have missed wide as well. He’s in a groove early on.
Washington gets some excellent zone time cycling the puck around the Bruins zone but don’t get any high-danger chances. Marc McLaughlin is the one to bring the puck out of the zone, but as he does, gets nailed into the bench boards hard – resulting in a penalty to Capitals’ defender Dmitry Orlov with less than two minutes remaining. Again, nothing doing and the time sounds. Taylor Hall struggling out there with passing and puck control, but this game is 0-0 after one. Bruins to have less than 20 seconds of power-play time to start the second.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 9 WSH: 8
Not much in terms of chances in the first couple minutes of the second period until Taylor Hall gets a burst of speed on the left-side boards, and takes it around the back of the cage but the wraparound attempt falls through as the puck falls off his stick. If he’s struggling with his passing, he needs to be the play driver to the net like he did there.
Less than five minutes into the game and we have our first goal. A simple play from Washington leads to a bomb from John Carlson beats Ullmark on his glove side and the Capitals take a 1-0 lead. Ullmark’s stick seemed to get stuck a little on Kuznetsov’s skate and that extra second prevented him from getting to Carlson’s shot.
Next few shifts after the goal, Lars Eller’s stick gets into the hands of McAvoy who goes down and the Bruins are back to their third power-play. Tom Wilson was not too happy at the call after and was barking a bit at McAvoy, but nothing but a scrum comes from it. Big man advantage here for the B’s. Boston’s power-play continues to struggle without Pastrnak and another one falls short. Back to 5v5.
The fourth line has been the best line today for the Bruins and they’re the first to get on the scoresheet. Nick Foligno displays some excellent patience to hold the puck around a sprawling Vanecek, then sends it back into the slot area where Curtis Lazar taps it into the empty cage. Game is tied at 1-1 before the halfway mark of the game.
Right after, Boston keeps that momentum on fire as Erik Haula jumps on the rush, taking a feed from McAvoy who was going off for a change, then bombs a gorgeous slapshot top corner off the post and in and 60 seconds after tying it, the Bruins take the one-goal lead.
Bruins announce during the second period that Matt Grzelcyk will miss the remainder of the game due to an upper-body injury. Not sure where the injury took place or when exactly as of right now but have to hope it isn’t overly serious.
Capitals continue to be dangerous off turnovers and they strike again in the second. Bruins are stuck on the ice for more than a minute, can’t clear the puck and it leads to Eller getting a shot on the pads of Ullmark. The Bruins netminder had no clue where the puck was which allowed Tom Wilson to whack it five-hole and tie the game up at two apiece. Derek Forbort with some poor net-front body control on Wilson, can’t allow that.
Derek Forbort ices the puck with less than thirty seconds in the period, leading to an Alex Ovechkin shot off a faceoff play – a play we have seen a few times already but Ullmark stays sharp and makes the save. In the dying seconds, DeBrusk throws a shot on Vanecek but his and Marchand’s rebound shot get stopped as the horn sounds. 2-2 after two.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 WSH: 17
Score: 2-2 – Goals: Carlson (14) Assists: Sheary (20); Lazar (8) Assists: Foligno (10); Haula (14) Assists: McAvoy (44); Wilson (23) Assists: Eller (15), Mantha (8)
In the opening minute of this final regulation period, Garett Hathaway drives in on McAvoy with tight body positioning and feeds it across to Dowd but Ullmark makes a fantastic post-to-post stop with the pad. Bruins bench loved that save and celebrated accordingly.
The bottom forward line for the B’s continues to get down low and work hard for chances. Curtis Lazar attempts a wraparound behind the net, but in doing so, draws a tripping penalty on Trevor van Riemsdyk and Boston goes to their fourth power-play. Taylor Hall made a brilliant move around John Carlson to make a clean pass to Marchand who misses the net wide on a golden opportunity. Nothing on the power-play again, 0-for-4.
Capitals take the lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the game. Lars Eller with a strong play along the boards to lose Derek Forbort who was playing man defense on him then throws it towards the net. The puck takes an unfortunate bounce off Erik Haula and then Ullmark’s shoulder before crossing the red line. Washington re-takes the lead, 3-2.
Kuznetsov continues to have a strong game today with an excellent breakaway bid that Ullmark follows the entire way to make a stop. Bruins take it the other way, turn it over, and Sheary gets sent on another breakaway right after but Ullmark makes another crucial stop. He has done his part and then some to give Boston a chance in this one. As the play goes back the other way again, Taylor Hall gets called on a tripping infraction and Washington finally gets their first bid on the man advantage. Bruins successfully kill it off.
Boston showing signs of desperation here as Trent Frederic takes a sloppy hooking penalty in the Capitals zone, an unnecessary penalty for him, and the Capitals go on another power-play, up by one, with just under five minutes to go. Penalty is killed off and Boston now has 2:39 to tie this game.
Bruce Cassidy pulls Linus Ullmark with around two minutes to go, Bruins cycle the puck around Washington’s zone for a bit with no shots towards the goal before the Caps ice the puck. Bruins call timeout with 1:20 remaining. Absolutely nothing comes from the 6-on-5 time, Bruins can’t even get into the Capitals zone, let alone get any chances. Ovechkin buries the empty-net goal with about one second to go and Bruins fall 4-2. No Pastrnak, Lindholm, or Grzelcyk hurt this game big time.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 31 WSH: 31
Final Score: 4-2 Capitals
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: WSH G Vitek Vanecek – 29 Saves on 31 Shots
2nd Star: WSH F Lars Eller – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating
3rd Star: BOS G Linus Ullmark – 28 Saves on 31 Shots
Boston Bruins now head back home on Tuesday for a meeting against the St. Louis Blues.