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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Caps 5, Bruins 3

December 15, 2017
This One Goes To Eleven – It’s one louder, isn’t it?

With Thursday’s 5-3 triumph over the Bruins in Boston, the Caps’ winning streak over the Bruins is now at 11 straight games. The streak started on Oct. 11, 2014 with a 4-0 victory over the Bruins in Boston, Barry Trotz’s first win as the Caps’ bench boss. 

Trotz has obviously never lost to the Bruins, and he ran his record as Caps’ coach to 176-75-28 with Thursday’s victory.

The Caps have played much better than they did on Thursday, and they’re capable of playing better than they showed on Thursday. Goaltender Braden Holtby – now 13-2-0 lifetime against the Bruins – made 34 saves to earn his 18 th win of the season, and Alex Chiasson’s two third-period goals – including a game-winning shorthanded goal – led the way as Washington won for the 15 th time in its last 21 games. 

Holtby kept the game close until the Caps could rev up their attack, and Washington never trailed in taking down the Bruins for the 11 th straight time.

I think we’re all aware of it,” says Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy of the Caps’ recent dominance over Boston. “We haven’t had much success at all. They usually bring up the goaltender while the team plays well in front of him every time they play us. He’s got to be the benefactor, too. I thought [Holtby] was very good for them.

“We needed more traffic because, because he plays so well against us in front of them, and we got a little late in the game, to get some second chances. Having said that, we hit at least two or three crossbars or posts. A couple others I thought were labeled, and he made saves, and then [there were] a couple that we didn’t execute well enough in front of him.”

The Caps also benefited from the fact that Boston was playing for the second time in as many nights. While the Capitals were in Beantown on Wednesday night, awaiting the Bruins, the B’s were in Detroit for a divisional game against the Red Wings.

“The first period, we weren’t crisp in front of them,” says Cassidy. “We had a couple opportunities, so, part of that was probably due to the late arrival [Wednesday] night, but then we got going. That’s where we need to be better against him, so only the players can answer that, if they’re squeezing their sticks against him and this team, but I don’t know if it’s in their heads, necessarily, at this time of year.”

Boston will have another chance to get that monkey off its back in a couple of weeks. The Capitals host the Bruins here at Capital One Arena on Dec. 28 in the final of the three meetings between the two teams this season.

Economy – Washington had only 22 shots on net in Thursday’s game, and 13 of those came in a first period in which the Caps scored only one goal. The Caps managed only three shots on net in the second period, and all three came in a span of less than two minutes in the middle of the frame. Two of the three came on a power play, and the last of them was a Nicklas Backstrom shot that broke a 1-1 tie at 12:05 of the second. 

The Caps went the first 10:52 of the second without a shot on net, and they also went the last 7:55 of the second without a shot on goal.

Boston limited Washington to a mere five shots on net at five-on-five over the final 40 minutes of Thursday’s game. But the Caps scored on one of those five shots, plus they added a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal and an empty-net goal as well.

Washington scored one goal on its first 15 shots of the game (in 30:53 of playing time), and it scored four times on its next seven shots in 29:07 of playing time). 

Thunder In The Third – Caps winger Alex Chiasson scored twice in the third period, including a shorthanded breakaway goal that proved to be the game-winner. With six goals on the season, Chiasson is halfway to matching his total of a dozen goals from 2016-17 when he was with the Calgary Flames. 

Chiasson now has three career shorthanded goals, scoring one in each of the last three seasons and doing so for three different teams (Ottawa, Calgary and Washington). His game-winner on Thursday is Chiasson’s first as a member of the Capitals, and the ninth of his NHL career.

Thursday’s two-goal game was the fourth of Chiasson’s NHL career and his first since Oct. of 2013 when he was a rookie with the Dallas Stars. He had three two-goal games in his first 16 games in the NHL. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Chiasson is the third Caps player to produce a multiple-goal third period this season. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick in the third period of Washington’s Oct. 5 season opener against the Senators in Ottawa and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice in the third period of an Oct. 28 game against the Oilers in Edmonton. 

Offense From Defense – Caps defensemen had scored in three straight games going into Thursday’s game in Boston. While that streak came to a halt, the Caps did get four assists from blueliners in the win over the Bruins. 

Washington defensemen have now combined for 11 goals and 66 points on the season for an average of exactly two points per game. Last season, Caps defensemen totaled 29 goals and 173 points for an average of 2.1 points per game.

The 300 Club – Ex-Bruins winger Brett Connolly skated in his 300 th career NHL game for Washington on Thursday, doing so against his former team. Connolly has amassed 48 goals and 90 points in those 300 games, and he has totaled 21 goals and 31 points in his 90 games as a member of the Capitals.

Double Sawbuck – Playing its 33 rd game of the season, Washington recorded its 20 th victory on Thursday. Among all NHL teams, only two Tampa Bay (23) and St. Louis (21) have more wins than does Washington. 

By The Numbers – John Carlson led the Caps with 25:20 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Capitals with four shots on net and seven shot attempts … Dmitry Orlov led Washington with five hits … Chiasson, Kuznetsov, Matt Niskanen, Madison Bowey and Brooks Orpik each had two blocked shots to lead the way for the Caps.

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