Lucky 12: Washington Beats Boston Again

Posted December 28, 2017

Ovechkin scored a goal and a shootout goal. (Caps Outsider)

WASHINGTON — In the 12th matchup between Boston and Washington under Barry Trotz, the Capitals and Bruins needed a shootout to decide a winner. Alex Ovechkin scored the only shootout goal, and the winning streak against Boston remains alive.

The last time Washington lost a game to Boston, Adam Oates was behind the bench, Jarome Iginla scored the first and third goals for Boston, and the only Capital to score a point still on the roster is Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“Can I say one thing?” Trotz asked the media gathered for his post-game press conference. “Games like this are going to make me bald and turn gray.”

Tonight marked the fifth time in six games the Caps needed the extra frame to decide a game. They are 3-2 in those games, needing a shootout in the last two.

Trotz said the team got into Washington from last night’s game in New York around 3 a.m. Their first period play reflected that.

David Backes and Noel Accari scored in the first period off of pretty similar plays below the Captials’ goal line.

“We talked about having a really good start, play quick and all that, right out of the gate set the tone. We did none of that,” Trotz said.

Brooks Orpik and Sean Kuraly dropped gloves for a short scrap, resulting in a Washington power-play that generated the first bit of offensive zone pressure all night. The advantage came up empty.

Trotz credited the hit with “pulling everyone into the fight.”

The Capitals offense struggled in the early going. They went 13 minutes into the second period before Lars Eller snapped a wrist shot from the high slot over Anton Khudobin’s glove.

The goal ended an over 170-minute drought, about eight minutes shy of the franchise record for longest stretch of game play without a goal.

“Good job by the guys tonight not getting discouraged, fighting through it,” Matt Niskanen said.

Ovechkin tied the game on a power-play goal from his usual spot: the top of the left faceoff circle.  This marked the first Caps power-play goal in six games. The Capitals’ captain moves into a tie with Nikita Kucherov at the top of the NHL in goals with 24.

“Doesn’t matter if I score or somebody else score,” the captain said. “Pretty sure we’re gonna be fine.”

Ovechkin missed in the shootout yesterday against the Rangers.

“That’s one thing that Ovi does,” Trotz said. “If he has a failure, he sort of says ‘I have to make up for it.'”

John Carlson assisted on the Ovechkin goal for his 25th of the season, second in the NHL among defenders.

Following a successful penalty kill, one of five on the night, Backes pulled the visitors ahead again. His shot from the high slot hit Holtby’s glove and trickled over the goal line for the 3-2 lead.

“Thought I played it right, but technology didn’t come through for me,” Holtby said.

Eller, keeping with his stellar play, missed a shorthanded breakaway and set-up the next game-tying goal. His shot banked off Khudobin and straight for Brett Connolly’s stick. Connolly sent a pass toward Tom Wilson, but it hit a Bruin in front of the net and bounced over the line. The Bruins challenged for offside, and failed.

Wilson moved down to play with Connolly and Eller as part of a line shuffling.

“Considering that we didn’t score the two previous games, sometimes you just need a shakeup,” Eller said.

Holtby made all three saves in the shootout, and Ovechkin rung his attempt off the post and in for the win over Boston.

Boston and Washington finished tied in the shot department, 34-34. Holtby finished with 31 saves.

The breaks in the schedule have not helped the Capitals of late. In the last four games, the team took four of a possible eight points, and won only once.

Trotz analogized the Capitals to inertia: “when a body’s in motion it stays in motion. Well, when a body’s off with our team, it’s off. We’re gonna have to come up with a plan and be dedicated to it.”

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