Backstrom helps Caps win 14th straight over Bruins, 4-2
BOSTON (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom is a believer in puck luck, something the Capitals have had plenty of against the Bruins in recent years.
Backstrom and his teammates had luck on their side again Thursday night as he scored the third-period winner to help Washington win its 14th straight over the Boston Bruins with a 4-2 victory.
“Sometimes hockey isn’t fair,” Backstrom said after the Capitals won despite being outshot 41-22. “Even if they win the shots, we got the win. It’s weird sometimes.”
Backstrom, who sat out Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia with an illness, glided in to the Bruins’ zone and ripped a left-circle wrister past Jaroslav Halak for the go-ahead goal with 14:14 remaining.
Alexander Ovechkin netted his NHL-leading 31st and 32nd goals of the season, and also had the highlight hit of the game when he sent Zdeno Chara — the NHL’s tallest player ever at 6-foot-9 — flipping head over heels into the Capitals’ bench on a shove late in the first period.
The TD Garden crowd gasped, but play continued and there was no immediate on-ice retaliation. The Bruins captain tumbled back onto the ice quickly and rejoined the play.
Ovechkin declined to speak with reporters after the game about the hit.
Jakub Vrana also had a goal for the Capitals, whose streak against the Bruins dates to March 29, 2014.
“Didn’t happen again against this team. Have to get over that hurdle,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “A lot of nights that would be good enough for points, if not two points, but not tonight.”
Ryan Donato and David Krejci each had goals for Boston. The Bruins suffered a season-opening 7-0 blowout loss at Washington on Oct. 3 when the Capitals celebrated last season’s Stanley Cup title.
“That was a different night, but at the same time you know they’re always coming out hard at home,” Backstrom said. “I feel like they’re way more physical at home than maybe on the road.”
Halak had 18 saves for Boston, which had its five-game win streak snapped.
“I didn’t make a save on the third goal. That’s the bottom line,” Halak said. “I got outplayed by their goalie, and you know, they got a win, so we just need to be better.”
Washington led 1-0 after the first period despite being outshot 17-5. T.J. Oshie grabbed a giveaway by the Bruins and flipped the puck from the Capitals’ end to a wide-open Vrana, who beat Halak with 13:22 to play.
Tensions boiled over in the second when Washington’s Lars Eller and Boston’s Brad Marchand got tangled up during a play. Eller, whose celebration in front of the Boston bench after scoring the Capitals’ seventh goal in the opener drew postgame criticism from Marchand, was sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Donato tied it at 1 with 5:49 to play in the second. But, Ovechkin quieted the TD Garden crowd 39 seconds later when he converted after a feed from behind the net to make it 2-1.
Krejci ripped the tying power-play goal past Holtby from the right circle with 15:23 remaining in the third.
Ovechkin scored into an empty net with 1:35 left to seal the victory.
NOTES: Bruins D Charlie McAvoy missed his seventh straight game with a foot infection. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice and could return for Saturday’s game against Toronto. ... Washington D John Carlson, born in nearby Natick, Massachusetts, celebrated his 29th birthday. ... Boston announced a partnership with the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League team on Thursday. The Bruins are the fourth NHL franchise to partner with a NWHL team.
Capitals: Host Columbus on Saturday night.
Bruins: Visit the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.