Bruins dismantle Capitals
The Capitals typically give the Bruins fits but after playing Wednesday in Philadelphia, Washington (29-25-10) never put up much of a fight Thursday at TD Garden as Boston (40-17-5) won, 3-0. In his career-high 46th start of the season, Tuukka Rask picked up his NHL leading sixth shutout of the season by only making 16 saves, avoiding breaking a sweat. Gregory Campbell and Loui Eriksson each had a goal while Brad Marchand added an empty-netter.
“We were really good in all three zones,” said Eriksson. “We worked hard for 60 minutes.”
Boston outshot Washington, 43-16, so if it wasn’t for Caps goaltender Braden Holtby (40 saves) the B’s easily could have won by five or six goals. It didn’t help that the Capitals had four shots on goal in both the first and second period. For B’s head coach Claude Julien, defensive performances don’t get much better than that on his club.
“Our whole team played well without the puck, we took away their time and space,” Julien said. “We did a great job of getting on them quickly.”
There were no power plays for either team so Julien was able to roll four lines even more than usual. As a result, every player had at least 11:27 of ice time (Daniel Paille) but no more than 21:52 (Johnny Boychuk).
After a scoreless first period, the Bruins were about to go on a power play when Campbell tipped in Patrice Bergeron’s shot during a delayed penalty. A little more than five minutes later, Eriksson roofed it over Holtby after a great feed from Carl Soderberg. Marchand’s goal extended his team lead to 21 goals this season.
Boston will be in Florida this weekend: playing at the Lightning (34-23-5) on Saturday (7 p.m., NESN), then at the Panthers (23-32-7) on Sunday (5 p.m., NESN).
What they’ll be saying: The circumstances might have been weighted in their favor but the Bruins finally found a way to beat Holtby in the regular season. Coming into Thursday night, he had been 4-0-0 with a 2.16 goals against average and .936 save percentage in four games against Boston. Conversely, Rask was able to break his drought against the Capitals. He was 0-3-3 with 3.54 goals against average and .881 save percentage in six games vs. Washington.
The two newest Bruins defensemen – Corey Potter and Andrej Meszaros – were at the Garden but they weren’t in the lineup as they were healthy scratches sitting on the ninth floor with Jordan Caron. In his postgame press conference, Julien talked about it being an open competition now between the defensemen with eight guys here and only six spots in the lineup. It’s hard to see Potter playing anytime soon with Boston (maybe he’ll go to Providence) but Meszaros will likely appear in at least one game this weekend. Matt Bartkowski or Kevan Miller would appear to be the players most likely to sit for him, keep in mind that Meszaros is a left-handed shot like Bartkowski.
Campbell has four goals in his last four games which for him is a serious hot streak, giving him seven on the season. He talked about how much better the Bruins are when the fourth line is playing well and we’ve seen the results lately. Campbell and Shawn Thornton led the Bruins with four hits apiece while Campbell went 6-5 on the faceoff dot-a place he has struggled at times this season.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate