On the first day of February, the Boston Bruins came to town and we had a Wednesday Night Rivalry. It was also Chinese Heritage Night at the Verizon Center, as they welcomed a Beijing youth hockey team and ushered in the Chinese New Year. In their second game back from the All-Star break, the Capitals and the Bruins both had their All Star netminders starting the game; Braden Holtby was backing the Caps and Tuukka Rask started for Boston. No Justin Williams or Taylor Chorney for the Caps. Luckily for us, the game was on NBC, which we all know is our favorite way to view our beloved Caps… *Insert eye roll here*
This game started out hard and fast. You can see the storied history that causes these teams to play each other with such fervor. Three minutes into the game, TJ Oshie got the Caps on the board first, going 5-hole on Rask. Nicklas Backstrom got the primary assist from a beautiful breakaway pass. The Bruins had a little defensive mishap that allowed Oshie to go one-on-one with Rask and give the Caps the lead. Backstrom also gave the Caps their second goal, putting a Matt Niskanen rebound in past Rask. The Caps were called for the games first penalty when Brett Connolly took out Riley Nash. Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the scoreboard on the ensuing power play. The Caps had a pretty good first period. They headed to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The Caps seemed a bit sleepy and slow this period. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for a weak penalty when his stick hit the back of David Krejci’s leg. Marchand got another goal from a great passing play from Ryan Spooner. The power play goal was Marchand’s second of the game and leveled the playing field. Marchand was also called for Boston’s first penalty, giving the Caps their first power play of the game. Unfortunately, the Caps did not convert and the game stayed tied at two. Brandon Carlo was called for holding against Marcus Johansson and the Caps went to their second power play of the night. Backstrom almost bent the twine but caught the top of Rask’s glove. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps back the lead with a snipe from his office. It was goal #550 for Ovi, putting him in front of Wayne Gretzky and tying Joe Sakic for all-time NHL power play goals. Caps end the second up on the Bruins, 3-2.
The Caps were on the power play early in the third when Carlo was called for high-sticking John Carlson. Patrice Bergeron took a direct shot to the inside of his right knee from Niskanen and was in some immense pain leaving the ice. He went directly to the Bruins locker room. Hopefully he is ok and can return to the game. The Caps did not score on the power play, but did a few seconds after it expired. Connolly had some pretty sweet moves against his former club as he faked a shot to fool Rask and walked right in and around the tendy to put the puck in the net. Kuznetsov got the primary apple. During a scramble in front of Holtby, Niskanen was called for hooking and the Caps were back on the PK. The Bruins could not put the biscuit in the basket and the Caps were still up 4-2. Marchand almost got a hattrick, and would have had it had the puck been flat on his stick. I gotta admit, I may hate the guy, but Brad Marchand is a heck of a hockey player! With 4:07 left in the game, Tom Wilson made a great save at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone, passed to Kuzy, who put the puck in the net. Wilson had the primary assist on the goal, and also ended up in the net himself. The Bruins got a loose puck in past Holtby as it trickled from Holtby’s pads. With 1:22 left in the game, the Bruins pulled Rask for the extra skater. However, it was to no avail. The Caps won, 5-3.
This was definitely a thriller despite the Caps winning 5-3. When Boston comes to town, you always see the fire these two teams have and can play with. The Caps had a subpar second period, which allowed Boston to inch closer. The Bruins are not a team you want to give too many chances to. They have too many guys who can score and are good at it!
The Caps are now 34-11-6, and lead the league in points with 74. Their next game is Saturday, February 4th at 1pm in Montreal against the Canadiens. This is an early game, so don’t forget to tune in! See ya then, Caps faithful!