|Record||Goaltender||GAA / SV%|
|Washington Capitals||6-0-3||Vitek Vanecek||3.00 / .930|
|Boston Bruins||5-1-2||Tuukka Rask||4.00 / .826|
TLDR: Backstrom scores 5th of the season, and van Riemsdyk and Panik their first. After scoring three, the Caps would then allow three to force overtime. Just 28 seconds into the 3-on-3, Alex Ovechkin scored his 24th overtime goal to take down the Bruins, 4-3.
The Washington Capitals are rounding out their longest homestand of the season with a pair of games against the Boston Bruins. The Capitals had just two losses in their last 18 regular season meetings against the Bruins (dating back to 2014). After missing the last four games due to violation of league-wide COVID protocols, Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov made their return to the Caps lineup. Unfortunately, Washington was still missing Lars Eller and Justin Schultz. Meanwhile, for the Bruins, David Pastrnak made his season debut after undergoing hip surgery in September 2020. Vitek Vanecek got his 6th consecutive start after going 3-0-2 in his first five.
Saturday’s prime time tilt was the first time Zdeno Chara would face his former team after 14 seasons as captain of the Bruins. Ovechkin started his night on the 2nd line with TJ Oshie and Richard Panik.
The first period was extremely fast moving, with just four faceoffs through the first 13 minutes. Boston won all four. Early on, both the Caps and Bruins had great scoring opportunities, including an up-close shot from Richard Panik and another from Garnet Hathaway. Vitek Vanecek, in net for his 6th straight start, was forced to make a flurry of saves on high-danger chances from the Bruins. Nick Jensen who had been a healthy scratch for the last few games, also blocked a shot that easily could have ended up behind Vanecek and given Boston a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins have been extremely efficient in holding past opponents to minimal shots on goal against, and the Caps were no exception; Washington was being outshot 12 to 3, eight minutes into the period. With just under two minutes remaining in the period, Nicklas Backstrom tallied his 5th goal of the season to give his team a 1-0 lead.
But then, at the 18:45 mark, Richard Panik was called for tripping, and so the Bruins received the first power play of the evening. They would begin the 2nd period with 45 seconds remaining. Although the Bruins outattempted the Capitals 35 to 13 (19-7 SOG). in the first period, it was Washington who led after 20.
The Capitals successfully killed off the remainder of Boston’s late first period power play, but Brad Marchand nearly scored again upon expiration of the Panik penalty. TJ Oshie was hit up high by a shot off Brandon Carlo’s stick, but quickly returned to the ice, no worse for wear. Washington should have earned a power play when Lauzon got away with a hold, but luckily, they would get an opportunity with the man-advantage not long after. At the 5:22 mark, Trevor van Riemsdyk tallied his first with Washington to give them a 2-0 lead.
The goal came on their 9th shot of the game. David Krejci was called for hooking at the 8:39 mark to give the Caps their first power play. Tom Wilson scored his 5th of the season a little over 60 seconds into the man-advantage.
*The goal would ultimately be credited to Richard Panik*
Washington’s power play, at home, is 6 for 10, thus operating at an impressive 60% efficiency. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask had not ‘seen’ many of the Caps shots through two period, and quite simply, looked uncomfortable between the pipes. With 8:17 remaining, and outshooting Washington 25-13, Bostons’ Rask had allowed three goals on 13 shots for an abysmal .769 save percentage. Impressively, the Capitals had put up nine unanswered goals over the last two showings.
Unfortunately, the Bruins would be gifted another late-period power play as Garnet Hathaway was called for interference with 3:17 remaining. Nick Ritchie would spoil Vanecek’s (first) shutout hopes as he scored on the power play to make it 3-1, Caps. The Bruins haven’t scored many even-strength goals, though. Of 28 total goals-for, 10 are power play goals. Washington led 3-1 heading into the final frame.
Early in the third, Daniel Sprong almost made it 4-1 just three minutes in, but the score remained. The Capitals were outhitting the Bruins, 28-12, but led by two goals. Brad Marchand reduced Washington’s lead to just one goal as he scored at the 6:03 mark. Jakub Vrana then was sent off to the penalty box for high-sticking. Lucky for Jakub, the Caps killed off their 3rd penalty of the night. The boys in red still led with just under 10 minutes remaining, but with Boston severely outshooting them, it seemed unlikely that the score would remain 3-2. Patrice Bergeron got away with a blatant trip against Hathaway with 7:31 remaining. The Caps were assessed a bench minor for too-many-men with under six minutes left, but Washington would escape unscathed. Down by one, Tuukka Rask would be lifted from the Bruins net for the extra skater with 1:23 left. With 57 seconds remaining, Boston would tie it with a goal from Charlie McAvoy. Overtime was inevitable.
The point streak would continue, and win or lose, the Capitals still have not lost in regulation. Just 28 seconds into the overtime period, and in his first game back after missing the last four, Alex Ovechkin would score to win it for the Capitals, 4-3. It would be Ovi’s 708th goal, and his 24th career overtime goal, the most ever scored by a single player.
Vitek Vanecek made 40 saves on 43 shots to earn his 5th win (4th in 5 starts), and put up a .930 save percentage. Vanecek was absolutely outstanding once again, and has made a VVery strong argument for his potential as a long-term starting goaltender.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways
- Though they need to start actually shooting more, at least the Capitals are making their shots count
- Vanecek had made a strong appeal to take over the starting goaltender role even when Samsonov returns.
- Washington needs to practice taking faceoffs. A lot.
NBCSWA and NESN will be covering Capitals vs Bruins, from Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, with puck drop coming shortly after 7:00pm.
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