Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rask, Bruins' defense stifle Caps

Bruins' goalie Tuukka Rask stopped all 16 shots he faced for his sicth shutout of the season.
The Washington Capitals limped into TD Garden on Thursday night still licking their wounds from a bloody brawl with the Philadelphia Flyers the night before, but if they were looking for any sympathy from the Bruins, they were apt to be disappointed.

What they got instead was a stifling Bruins' defense that even Alex Ovechkin was powerless to penetrate - so dominating the effort that goaltender Tuukka Rask faced only eight shots through two periods while the Bruins' offense pelted Caps' goalie Braden Holtby with more than three times as many...

...Gregory Campbell and Louis Eriksson potting goals in the second period with Brad Marchand adding an empty net score, and Tuukka Rask stopped all 16 shots that got past the wall of physical Bruins' defenders as Boston dominated the weary Capitals 3-0 on Thursday night at TD Garden.

In truth, Holtby was fantastic between the pipes for Washington as well, either smothering shots into his body or redirecting them harmlessly to the corners, consistently denying chance after solid chance for the slick skating Bruins, nearly single-handedly keeping the Caps in the game.

Holtby faced 10 shots in the opening frame and turned away all of them - as did Rask the four shots that found their way through the Bruins' defenders - numbers that inflated four-fold by the time the final horn sounded, eight of Washington's 16 coming in the final frame while the Holtby stopped 40 of 42, both of the goals that he allowed coming in the second period.

Campbell started the scoring three minutes into the middle frame tipping in a Patrice Bergeron drive from the left wing with a big assist from linemate Daniel Paille who chopped down on defenseman Conner Carrick's stick to prevent interference with Campbell, who stood his ground and redirected the drive through Holtby's five-hole for the 1-0 lead

Eriksson made it 2-0 just five minutes later when Carl Soderberg picked off a puck out of the crease after Holtby absorbed a Ryan Miller shot and circling behind the net - drawing the defense to him behind Holtby's stick side, then finding his fellow Swede wide open in the low post where the defense had just vacated, Eriksson sand wedging one top shelf for the 2-0 lead going into the room at the second intermission.
Eriksson scores in the second to put the Bruins up 2-0

The tired Capitals came out in the final frame having caught a second wind and gave Boston one final burst of energy, and even had one golden chance to score and make it a one goal game, but Ovechkin somehow couldn't finish an open net chance from point blank range, the puck instead skittering just wide of the post.

Disaster averted, the Bruins survived the short-lived energy burst and cruised to the victory, Marchand planting one into the empty net with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the game from the left wing for the final score - Boston again pulling within one point of the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins for top seed in the playoffs.

The Bruins now take their three-game winning streak to the Sunshine State to run the Florida gauntlet between Sunrise and Tampa before heading north to take on the hated Canadiens in Montreal as part of a stretch run that sees Boston playing 13 of 20 on the road to finish the season.

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