WASHINGTON – Boston Bruins players could feel themselves making progress in recent games against the Washington Capitals even as the losses piled up.
All it took was finishing one play, a commitment to team defense and a handful of timely saves by Tuukka Rask for the Bruins to end their 14-game skid against the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 1-0 victory Sunday. Boston beat Washington for the first time since March 29, 2014, and its 14 consecutive victories against Arizona are now the longest active winning streak against one opponent in the NHL.
“We’ve had some tight games,” said Rask, who made 24 saves for his second career victory in 19 appearances against Washington. “It’s one of those things that just happens in sports where you get into these streaks of either winning or losing and at some point they’re going to snap.”
Thanks to David Krejci’s goal, the Bruins ended their three-game skid and handed the Capitals their eighth loss in nine games.
Outscored 45-21 during their 14-game run of futility (including 7-0 on opening night), the Bruins dominated the Capitals in almost all facets of the game and would have blown them out if not for the play of goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 37 saves. Holtby was helpless to stop Krejci’s shot on a one-timer after a tic-tac-toe puck movement and a cross-ice pass from Torey Krug midway through the second.
Rask earned “TUUK!” chants from Bruins fans in attendance, no louder than when he flashed the glove to snare a shot from Travis Boyd in the slot in the third period. The Finnish goalie picked up his 253rd career victory to take over first place on the Bruins’ all-time list.
“He was in control all night,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We were pretty clean in front of him there till the end, and when we weren’t, he was there for us. Happy for him, I think the guys in the room are as well and hopefully he keeps building on it.”
In many ways, the Capitals had themselves to blame for Sunday’s loss.
Fed up by mental mistakes, Capitals coach Todd Reirden used ice time as a weapon to punish players. He benched Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitrij Jaskin for much of the first period after each took a penalty and Andre Burakovsky for the first few minutes of the second for a defensive-zone turnover that almost led to a goal.
Washington leads the league with 191 minor penalties.
“I think as you get past the All-Star break and you start making a push toward the playoffs, that’s an area we have to get better in, as we’ve taken far too many minor penalties with our sticks,” Reirden said. “We have to be more disciplined if we’re going to have success moving forward from here, and I thought the last 30 games is a good time to implement that.”
TRADE: Penguins acquire Bjugstad, McCann from Panthers
Alex Ovechkin returned to the lineup after being forced to sit out Friday against Calgary for skipping All-Star Weekend. Ovechkin powered around Chara for a scoring chance in the first period but couldn’t crack Rask. He will need to wait at least one more game to pass Sergei Fedorov for the most points by a Russian player.
“I’m so happy he didn’t get it on me,” Rask said. “I didn’t know that. That would’ve been in my head if I knew that. That’s good. I’m not facing them again, so that’s good.”
CANADIENS 4, OILERS 3 OT
MONTREAL – Jonathan Drouin scored at 58 seconds of overtime to lift Montreal past Edmonton.
Drouin scored seconds after Canadiens goalie Carey Price made back-to-back saves on Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi pulled Montreal even with 6:25 left in regulation, roofing the puck over Mikko Koskinen from a tight angle after Max Domi battled for the puck behind the net.
Domi and Shea Weber also scored for the Canadiens, and Price made 21 saves. Draisaitl scored twice for Edmonton, and Connor McDavid added a goal. The Oilers have lost five in a row.
FLAMES 4, HURRICANES 3
RALEIGH, N.C. – Derek Ryan, Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin scored in their first game back in Carolina, and Calgary won in coach Bill Peters’ return to Raleigh.
Peters resigned as Carolina’s coach last offseason and took over in Calgary. Shortly after, the Flames acquired Lindholm and Hanifin in a trade, and Ryan signed after three seasons in Carolina.
Garnet Hathaway also scored, and David Rittich made 33 saves to help Calgary improve to 9-1-1 in its last 11 games. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Hurricanes.