Many were curious as to whether or not the Capitals would continue their hot streak following the All-Star break, and from the looks of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, some were not incredibly confident they would. However, they completely redeemed themselves with a 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins Wednesday.
Thanks to a three-point performance from Nicklas Backstrom, as well as a dominant showing from the Capitals’ top guns, the team extended their Metropolitan Division lead by four points. They also continue to sit atop the NHL standings, and likely, the power rankings moving forward.
The Capitals got off to a fast start, generating offense from the get-go. Around three minutes later, Nicklas Backstrom made a wise defensive play and then delivered an outstanding pass to a wide-open T.J. Oshie on a breakaway. He didn’t look back and fired the puck five-hole past Rask for his 19th goal of the season.
About 10 minutes later, Washington extended its lead to two, again thanks to a strong showing from Backstrom. While Tuukka Rask made a solid kick save on Matt Niskanen, he gave up a juicy rebound right in the slot. Backstrom made him pay, immediately sniping the puck home to give Washington a 2-0 lead with around seven minutes to go in the first.
Despite a two-goal deficit, the Bruins wouldn’t go into the first period empty-handed. Brad Marchand made the most of the Bruins’ only power-play in the first period and fired a wrist shot that beat Holtby top-self. After 20 minutes of play, Boston led 9-6 in shots.
Washington would give up another penalty to start the first period, and again, Marchand made them pay. On a nice pass from Ryan Spooner, Marchand got to the doorstep and stuffed the puck past Holtby to even the score at two.
With just seconds left in the second period, the Capitals took full advantage of their power play. Backstrom blocked and took away a failed clearing attempt, and kept the play alive. He gave the puck to Niskanen, who went back and forth with Ovechkin before the Russian winger snapped a dart past Rask from the left circle, giving the Capitals a 3-2 lead going into the third.
The Capitals’ momentum from late in the second carried over into the third. On a three-man rush led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov got the puck to Brett Conolly, who shot a nifty backhander past Rask to make it 4-2.
With about five minutes remaining, Kuznetsov scored his 11th of the season from the left circle and now has three straight multi-point performances. He has scored two points in four of his last five games. David Krejci scored a late goal thanks to David Pastrnak and Marchand, but the comeback effort was too little, too late. The Bruins three-game winning streak snapped.
WSH- T.J. Oshie (19) assisted by Nicklas Backstrom
WSH- Nicklas Backstrom (14) assisted by Matt Niskanen and T.J. Oshie
BOS- Brad Marchand (22) assisted by Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak
BOS- Brad Marchand (23) assisted by Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak
WSH- Alex Ovechkin (25) assisted by Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom
WSH- Brett Connolly (9) assisted by Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov
WSH- Evgeny Kuznetsov (11) assisted by Tom Wilson
BOS- David Krejci (13) assisted by David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand
THW Three Stars
Nicklas Backstrom (one goal, two assists)
Brad Marchand (two goals, one assist)
David Pastrnak (two assists)
Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens
Bell Centre, 1 p.m. EST on Feb. 4
Broadcast Channels: CSNMA, SN
Toronto Maple LeafsBoston Bruins
T.D. Garden, 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4
Broadcast Channels: NESN, CBC, CITY
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.