The Boston Bruins still control their own destiny in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they don’t have any easy matchups in their three remaining regular-season games.
The first challenge is Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals, who own two wins by a combined 6-0 score in two previous meetings with Boston this season.
“This is a good time of the year, a fun time of the year,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said Tuesday. “You play these games that have a lot of meaning, and how you approach them does make a difference. If you stress yourself about it, there’s a good chance you’re not going to do the right thing, but if you get excited about it, normally you come up with your best effort.”
The matchup to watch is in net. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has the third-best save percentage in the NHL since Jan. 1 and has allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of his last 15 games. Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has a .948 save percentage in his career versus the Bruins, including two shutouts on 61 shots against this season. It might take just two goals to secure two points Wednesday night.
Here’s a preview of Bruins-Capitals:
TV, Radio Information: NBC Sports Network and 98.5 The Sports Hub
Season Series: Washington 2-0
Record: Boston (41-25-13, fourth in Atlantic), Washington (44-25-11, second in Metropolitan)
Bruins Player To Watch: Loui Eriksson has four goals and two assists in his last 10 games and is playing a key role for Boston on both the power play and penalty kill. The Capitals rank seventh in goals scored per game and first in power-play percentage, so expect Eriksson to be on the ice in lots of defensive situations.
Capitals Player To Watch: Alexander Ovechkin is making a late push for the Hart Trophy with a league-leading 52 goals, including five tallies in the last five games. He has enjoyed plenty of success against the Bruins in his career with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 35 games.
Key Stat For Bruins: Boston ranks 23rd in the NHL with a 7.9 shooting percentage during its five-game winning streak. The Bruins tallied season highs with 80 shot attempts and 50 shots on goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, but they only scored one goal. The B’s will need to finish scoring chances a lot better if they’re going to beat a very good goaltender in Holtby.
Key Stat For Capitals: As mentioned above, the Capitals have the best power play in the league with a 25.3 percent success rate. They’ve scored three goals with the man advantage versus the Bruins. Washington has scored five power-play goals in its last five games, including a 3 for 4 effort last Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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