After Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli gave his team a vote of confidence by making no major deals at the trade deadline, they rewarded him by playing one of their most dominating games of the season. Facing a Washington Capitals team they had lost 4-2 against just five days earlier, the Bruins came out and spent the majority of the game in the offensive zone. What was the difference in this game compared to their last meeting? Boston stayed out of the penalty box and did not allow the NHL’s second best power-play to impact the game.
Being more disciplined also helped the Bruins keep the league’s best goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, off the score sheet. That was not the case in their last matchup as Ovechkin burned the Bruins for two goals, both on the power-play.
There are some games where the boxscore does not tell the whole story, but in this game, it was a pretty good indication of how the game went. The Bruins won more faceoffs and outhit the Capitals. Boston also outshot Washington by a wide margin, 43-16, for one of their highest shot differentials against an opponent this year.
Gregory Campbell scores again: After a first period dominated by the Bruins ended without a goal by either team, Boston came out in the second and wasted no time putting their first goal of the game on the board. While Boston had the extra-man out on the ice on a delayed penalty, Patrice Bergeron’s one-timer above the left faceoff circle was redirected by Campbell who was screening in front of Washington’s net. The goal was the seventh of the season for Campbell and the fourth in as many games.
Third line heating up: One of the biggest reasons the Bruins were able to capture the 2011 Stanley Cup was the play of their third line. Since that season however, the third line has not been able to reproduce the impressive numbers they put up that year. Early this season it looked like that line would once again lack a lot of productivity, but the lines two newest members, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, have really gained a rapport with Chris Kelly as of late. In the five games since returning from the Olympic break, Kelly, Soderberg, and Eriksson have combined for three goals and five assists.
Although the Bruins thoroughly outplayed the Capitals, the win should be taken with a grain of salt. Washington had played the night before in a very physical contest against the Philadelphia Flyers and it showed with their lackluster effort. The only real push Washington made was early in the third period when they got their forechecking game going, and Boston had difficulty moving the puck out of their zone. Despite getting better of the play for about five-minutes into the third, the Capitals were not able to cut into the Bruins lead.
Boston regained control in the game thanks to a great shift by their rapidly improving third line. The forechecking of Kelly, Soderberg, and Eriksson flipped momentum once again in the Bruins favor and they kept it for the rest of the game.
Trailing 2-0 late in the third period, the Capitals pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The desperation move did not pay off, and an empty-netter by Brad Marchand iced the game for Boston as they went on to win 3-0. The shutout was Rask’s sixth of the year which is tops in the NHL.
The Bruins will now travel to Florida as they play in back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.