February 5, 2012

Bruins notch much-needed, convincing win over Caps

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 4, Washington 1

Recap: After a few unlucky opening frames, the Bruins not only outplayed but outscored their opponent in the first period on Sunday. The B’s were staked to a 1-0 lead when Milan Lucic beat Tomas Vokoun at the 10:45 mark on a feed from Rich Peverley. Brad Marchand doubled the edge with 1:22 left in the stanza with a backhander.

After a scoreless second, Tyler Seguin pushed the lead to three, tipping in his 20th goal of the campaign. Marcus Johnsson’s 11th of the season with 7:56 left gave the Capitals some momentum, but Tim Thomas and Co. held the fort for the remainder of the contest. Peverley closed out the scoring with 41 seconds left, burying an empty-netter as Boston stopped their two-game skid with a 4-1 win at Verizon Center.

Records: Boston 33-16-2, 68 points; Washington 27-21-4, 58 points

Key Play of the Game: After falling behind early with immense regularity of late, the Bruins badly needed to get on the board first. Lucic’s goal was a gorgeous play. The winger drove to the net on a 2-on-2 with Rich Peverley, but Caps d-man Dennis Wideman didn't follow him. Peverley flipped a beautiful pass through to No. 17, who was all alone in front. Lucic waited Vokoun out before beating him on the forehand.

Connolly’s Commendations: It was a great day all around for the “second” line. Patrice Bergeron had two assists, was plus-3 and won 15-of-24 (63%) faceoffs. Seguin hit the 20-goal plateau and Marchand chipped in a goal and a helper.

After a dismal showing on Saturday in which he had zero shots, Lucic was light-years better for the B’s in this one. The 23-year-old forward played with much more energy, notched his 19th goal of the season and fired four shots in the much-needed win.

Many expected Tuukka Rask to be between the pipes after Thomas played on Saturday, but the veteran found out late Sunday morning he’d be getting the nod. Thomas was simply superb, stopping 35-of-36 against a depleted-but-still-dangerous Caps squad.

Great job by the top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk to shut the Alex Ovechkin line down. The two d-men had a combined rating of plus-5, Boychuk had a team-high four hits and Chara led the way with 25:49 of ice time.

Jordan Caron also had a solid showing in his return to the lineup from Providence. No. 38 had four shots on goal and was considerably more noticeable than the winger he replaced (Zach Hamill).

Connolly’s Critiques: Maybe a bit of nitpicking here, but it was another quiet showing for Benoit Pouliot. No. 67 missed on all three of his attempted shots and didn’t do much in 14:03 of TOI.

Notes: Chris Kelly ended a six-game point drought with an assist on Peverley’s empty-net goal. Pouliot’s now gone five tilts without a point. Thomas improved to 14-4-2 in his career against Washington.

Final Thoughts: Now that’s the Bruins we’ve been looking for. Boston played superb at both ends of the ice in their 4-1 victory on Sunday, with extra credit going to the rearguards for turning things around and stepping up against the Caps (and on the road, to boot). Hopefully the B’s can use the win as a springboard and start racking up points at a better clip throughout February.

Next: The Bruins won’t play again until Wednesday when they pay a visit to the Sabres up in Buffalo.