The Capitals played a sloppy game this past Thursday against one of the leagues worst teams. They escaped with a narrow win and quickly had to turn their attention to one of the best teams in the Eastern conference. Braden Holtby was in net at TD garden against Tuukka Rask for the early Saturday match up.
Boston is known for their physical style of play and their brutal defense. They allow the fewest goals a game in the entire league. Washington was without Mikhail Grabovski in this contest due to him re-aggravating his ankle injury vs. the Panthers.
Washington’s defense was tested early in the first period when both Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle got minor penalties. The penalty kill was spectacular, killing off a two minute long five on three-man advantage for the Bruins. This penalty kill was the turning point in the game as momentum swung toward the road team.
Chris Kelly got an interference call just under two minutes before periods end. The Capitals played a hard fought first period and finally got rewarded for their effort. Alex Ovechkin put a one timer in past Rask with a nice feed coming from John Carlson at the blue line.
The Caps played a great first period all around: matching Boston’s physicality, killing off a crucial two man advantage and consistently challenging Rask. They continued their stellar play during the second frame.
Boston was on the penalty kill early in the second period and they cleared the puck down the ice. Braden Holtby stepped out and caught the Bruins on a line change. Holtby threw the puck off the boards up to Joel Ward. Ward then found MoJo across the ice, who then dropped the puck to Ovechkin for his second power play goal of the game.
Then just at the midway mark of the second, Joel Ward made a tremendous individual effort to steal the puck at the blue line. He worked his way through two Bruins defenders and finished a one on one with Rask for the 3-0 lead. It did not take long for the home team to respond.
Jason Chimera got a tripping minor just seconds after the Ward goal. That led to a Patrice Bergeron goal to cut the deficit to two. It was a nice pass to the slot from Dougie Hamilton with traffic in front of Holtby. A opposition goal coming within two minutes of a Caps goal is a common pattern throughout the season.
Washington played strong throughout the period, but Boston cashed in near the conclusion of the second. Boston had numbers coming down the ice and Daniel Paille found Shawn Thornton crashing the net for a nice tip in goal. So at periods end, the Caps were up 3-2 in TD garden despite having a 3-0 lead at the midway mark.
The Capitals played a tough third period as they had their chances to score. Rask robbed Troy Brouwer of a goal on an early power play chance in the slot. The defense did not let up and Holtby was making key saves. Their hard work nursing a one-goal lead led to a golden scoring chance.
Some of the Bruins players got caught up in the offensive zone and the puck made its way outside of the blue line. Fehr got a stick on it and off he was all alone with Tuukka Rask. It was similar to a shootout situation as Fehr had all kinds of space and time to work with. Fehr put it between the wickets and gave the road team a huge two-goal lead.
The Washington Capitals closed out the game 4-2 victors over a Boston team that is very difficult to beat at home. Boston is tied for the league lead in home wins amongst teams like Pittsburgh and Anaheim. This game was very impressive all across the board for the Caps.
This was the best game the Capitals have played all season. They notched in four goals against a team with the lowest goals against average in the league. The defense never made critical mistakes that cost them significant goals and the goal tending was stellar.
Braden Holtby played one of his best games all season today in TD garden. He stopped 36 out of the 38 shots he faced with a .947 save percentage. He made critical saves in the third period when the team only had a one-goal lead. Holtby also was the player who started to engineer that second power play goal of the game. He came out to play the puck and threw it off the boards. So in net he made great saves and outside of the net he was moving the puck effectively.
This win was a big statement as Washington begins to head into the thick of the strenuous March schedule. They move up to 68 points in the standings, still one point behind the Flyers. A win like this definitely helps build confidence amongst the team. They will need to be confident for the next few contests, as they are some of the most important games they have. The Caps return home tomorrow to face the Flyers and travel to Philly for a road game Wednesday.
These next two games are must wins since Philly holds the third position in the Metropolitan division. Gaining points against the Flyers while holding them still would do wonders for their playoff hopes. It will be interesting to see if a big road win today can carry momentum into the Verizon center for tomorrow’s game.