The Boston Bruins’ five-game win streak ended Wednesday night with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.
The victory gives Washington a sweep of the season series by a combined score of 9-0.
Boston continues its road trip Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Capitals.
1. Bad First Period Puts Bruins In Early Hole
The Bruins were outplayed throughout the first period and trailed 2-0 entering the intermission. Capitals defenseman John Carlson opened the scoring at 4:49 with a shot that beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask high glove side. Carlson was able to skate down toward the net unimpeded because of a defensive zone breakdown by Boston.
Washington doubled its lead less than three minutes later when defenseman Matt Niskanen scored from the point on a shot that was deflected in front by Boston D-man Zach Trotman. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom picked up primary assists on both goals, giving him 59 helpers on the season (tied for the league lead).
Shot attempts were 25-23 in favor of the Caps, but the quality of scoring chances was much greater for the home team. The Capitals have outscored the Bruins 5-0 in first periods this season. They also had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes when these teams met Oct. 11 at TD Garden.
2. Braden Holtby Dominates Bruins Again
Braden Holtby entered Wednesday’s game with a 6-2-0 record, a 1.80 goals against average and a .948 save percentage against the Bruins in his career. Those numbers improved with a 27-save shutout, his third of the season against the Bruins and ninth overall.
He stopped all 88 shots he faced in three games against Boston this season, extending his shutout streak to 186:43 dating back to March 2014.
3. Playoff Race Update
The Bruins and Ottawa Senators are tied with 95 points for the last wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Despite losing Wednesday night, the B’s still control their own destiny in the playoff race because they own a 37-35 advantage in the regulation and overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker over the Senators. If Boston and Ottawa finished the regular season tied in points and ROW, the Senators would get the playoff spot because of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Here’s an updated view of the wild card race, with the remaining schedule for each team in parentheses:
Penguins: 80 GP, 96 PTS, 38 ROW (vs. Islanders, at Sabres)
Bruins: 80 GP, 95 PTS, 37 ROW (at Panthers, at Lightning)
Senators: 80 GP, 95 PTS, 35ROW (at Rangers, at Flyers)
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
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