Boston broke a scoreless streak of 199:30 against the Caps in the first period on an unfortunate bounce. Brett Connolly skated the puck down the left wing for the Bruins in the Capitals’ zone. When he got to the bottom of the left wing circle, he threw the puck to the front of the net. Matt Niskanen got his stick on the puck and deflected it upward, seemingly out of harm’s way, but the puck his Jimmy Hayes in the chest and rebounded behind goalie Braden Holtby to give the Bruins the early edge.
That would be it for any “edge” the Bruins enjoyed. Alex Ovechkin tied the game less than five minutes later on his seventh goal of the year when he went to the top of the crease to establish positions, took a bump from Zdeno Chara, took a nudge from Kevan Miller, and as he tumbled to the ice managed to lift the stick of Chara away from a loose puck and then wrist the puck past goalie Tuukka Rask into the back of the net to tie the game.
Washington broke the tie early in the second period when Brooks Laich got his first of the season. It was a nasty, greasy sort of goal. It started with Michael Latta making a nice play to outfight Tyler Randell for the puck and slide it out to Dmitry Orlov at the right point. Orlov fired the puck at the net, but as it sailed through it struck the inside of Laich’s right ankle as he was setting up a screen in front of Rask at the top of the crease. The puck bounced down and past Rask’s glove to make it 2-1.
Barely three minutes late it was 3-1, courtesy of a usual goal scored in an unusual way. On a Caps power play, John Carlson fed the puck down to Nicklas Backstrom at the goal line to the left of Rask. As Backstrom surveyed the ice, Carlson circled all the way around the Bruins’ defense to the bottom of the left wing circle as Alex Ovechkin, who normally would occupy that spot, rotated up into Carlson’s spot. Backstrom feathered a pass through the top of the crease to Carlson, who pounded it past Rask for a 3-1 lead.
Karl Alzner closed the scoring with his first goal of the season, an empty netter with 1:50 left from the center red line, and the Cap had a 4-1 win.
-- The 199:30 shutout streak against the Bruins dating back to the last game against Boston in the 2013-2014 season belonged entirely to Braden Holtby. His career record against the Bruins went to 8-2-0, 1.52, .954, with three shutouts. In his last four appearances against Boston he is 4-0-0, 0.25, .991, with three shutouts.
-- Alex Ovechkin’s goal leaves him one behind Sergei Fedorov as the most prolific goal scorer from Russian in NHL history. His 482 career goals ranks fourth overall among active players, five behind Chicago’s Marian Hossa.
-- Brooks Laich’s goal was the first he scored at home in the regular season since recording one against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center last March 7th.
-- Karl Alzner’s goal broke a 19-game streak without one dating back to last season, his last one coming on March 26th against the New Jersey Devils.
-- For Laich and Michael Latta, who had an assist, their points were their first of the year, respectively. They became the 18th and 19th players for the Caps to record a point this season. The only skaters who remain without one who have played for Washington this season are Sean Collins, Taylor Chorney, and Chandler Stephenson.
-- With a goal and an assist, John Carlson recorded his fourth multi-point game of the season. He leads all NHL defensemen in multi-point games thus far.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov broke an odd streak with his assist on the Ovechkin goal. It was his first assist in five games after he had eight helpers in his first seven contests.
-- The Caps were taken to school in the faceoff circle, but not by the usual suspect. Patrice Bergeron was a mere 14-for-27 in the dot, but the David Krejci and Joonas Kemppainen were a combined 19-for-25 against the Caps. Jay Beagle, one of the best faceoff practitioners in the league, was victimized six times in eight tries against that pair.
-- Marcus Johansson had an eerily quiet game. In 16 minutes an change, the only marks on his score sheet were a missed shot attempt and one faceoff (a win).
-- On the other hand, Matt Niskanen gets a seat at the buffet – two shots on goal, three blocked, two misses, a hit, two giveaways, a takeaway, two blocked shots, and a plus-1 in 19:09.
In the end…
At the moment, the Caps own this series against the Bruins. Or at least Braden Holtby does. He has beaten them eight straight times after dropping his first two career decisions to them. Then there was the 2012 playoffs in which he had a goals against average of 1.95 and a save percentage of .935 in beating them in seven games. His performance on Thursday night was part of an overall fine performance by the Caps coming off a loss on Tuesday night. They have been very good at keeping one loss from becoming two in a row.
They get a bit of a break in the schedule with their next game at home against a Toronto Maple Leaf team that has only one road win before setting off on the road to Detroit, where the Red Wings are just a .500 home team, and Philadelphia, struggling to keep up in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps have done a good job of taking care of business in their first dozen games to date, so while there is always a danger in not taking such teams seriously, the Caps have not shown signs of doing any such thing.