March 1, 2014

Potent power play pushes Capitals past Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

Alex Ovechkin's two power-play goals sunk the Bruins on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Final: Washington 4, Boston 2

Recap: Coming into Saturday's matinee, the Bruins were well aware that the Caps were a team that depended largely on its power play for offense. You'd never have guessed the Black and Gold were cognizant of this, however, based on how the contest played out.

Boston put the Caps on the man advantage six times. They scored on their second opportunity late in the first period, with Marlborough, Mass., native John Carlson setting up Alex Ovechkin near the top of the circle to Tuukka Rask's right for a blast that eluded the B's netminder. In the second, it took just 2:24 for essentially a replay of the first goal to occur, with Ovechkin again scoring from the left side on the man advantage make it 2-0 in favor of the visiting squad.

Joel Ward's breakaway goal with 10:13 gone in the frame looked like it'd be a dagger, but Boston quickly got a goal back from Patrice Bergeron (on the power play) before Shawn Thornton -- on a goal originally credited to Greg Campbell -- saw a pass through the slot redirect top shelf past Braden Holtby to make it a one-goal game.

In the third, Boston outshot the Caps 16-10, but there weren't many golden scoring opportunities. Bruins-killer Eric Fehr iced it with 9:07 left on the Capitals' second breakaway tally of the night. 

Records: Washington (29-23-9, 67 points); Boston (37-17-5, 79 points)

Key Play of the Game: On Fehr's goal, Bergeron got stripped, but Torey Krug could've kept the Caps from taking off to the races. Unfortunately, No. 47 fell down at the offensive blue line, setting up Fehr to streak right down the middle and in alone on Rask.

Connolly's Commendations: The fourth line was easily the B's best forward unit in the matinee. Campbell, Thornton and Dan Paille generated a combined eight shots and did a superb job of pressuring Washington's defenders while on the forecheck. 

Dougie Hamilton, who set up Bergeron's power-play strike midway through the second period, also had an impressive showing. The second-year pro took plenty of initiative, coming down low in the offensive zone and making plays. He also showed a willingness to shoot the puck throughout the contest -- a trait his teammates didn't start to share until midway through the game.

Connolly's Critiques: Pretty invisible night for the top line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic. They, like many of their fellow B's, missed the net far too often when they had a chance to put pucks on Holtby. Collectively they finished minus-3, but it could've been worse as Lucic nearly saw an unforced turnover lead to a fifth Caps goal in the final 30 seconds of play.

The B's did a really poor job in the discipline department. Giving the Caps six power plays is not a winning strategy. Brad Marchand had two penalties in the offensive zone this afternoon with a high stick and a trip.

Notes: Dmitry Orlov played in his 100th career NHL game. ... Ovechkin's two-point night gave him 800 career points. ... Rask remains winless in his career against Washington (0-3-3).

Final Thoughts: After looking rusty in their 5-4 overtime loss to Buffalo, the B's weren't much better today against the Caps. They didn't show signs of life until falling behind by three goals. They certainly made a game of it, but their defensive lapses, lack of discipline and the power-play prowess of Ovechkin and Co. were too much to overcome.

Next: The Bruins will be right back at it tomorrow night when they take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ