After a disappointing month of January, the Washington Capitals welcomed the All-Star break and bye week, which gave them ten days between games. In their first game of February, the Capitals beat the NHL-best Boston Bruins 2-1 in TD Garden. It is only the second regulation loss at home for the Bruins. The win allowed the Capitals to claim the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by a single standings point over Pittsburgh.
A string of penalties across less than two minutes of gameplay eventually led to the Capitals’ first goal. Washington’s Erik Gustafsson took the game’s first penalty when he tripped David Pastrnak with 15:56 remaining. Over a minute later, Brad Marchand and Evgeny Kuznetsov took matching penalties, and then Boston took two more in less than 30 seconds. Charlie Coyle went off for tripping Lars Eller only 24 seconds before Hampus Lindholm was assigned an interference penalty for shooting a dropped stick toward the puck, interrupting the live play. The Capitals ended up with a two-man advantage.
One minute and four seconds after Lindholm’s penalty, Nicklas Backstrom gave the Capitals the lead off a rebound. Marcus Johansson made the initial shot and stayed in contention for the puck in front of Jeremy Swayman. It slid off Swayman’s left pad to Backstrom’s stick and from there to the back of the net. Johansson’s assist extended his current point streak to four consecutive games (1G-3A–4P). Since January 11, Johansson has had eight points in 11 games.
After taking nine shots in the first period, the Capitals took only four in the middle frame and allowed 11 shots against Darcy Kuemper. Despite the uneven shot stat, the two teams only scored once each in the second period.
Boston attempted to clear the puck out of its defensive zone with 8:22 to go in the period. Instead, it bounced off Garnet Hathaway’s skates as he prepared to backcheck. He kicked the puck to his stick and swung up the middle of the ice, firing a shot over Swayman’s shoulder.
Five minutes later, Boston got on the board. The Bruins worked the puck deep into the offensive zone, where Connor Clifton snuck a backhand pass to the left of the net. Nick Foligno tapped the puck in before Kuemper could react.
Both teams fired ten shots in the third period. With six minutes left, Boston had gone over four minutes without a shot on goal. Foligno’s goal was the only time Boston beat Kuemper, as he finished the game with a .964 save percentage to earn the first star of the game.
The Capitals will be back in action less than 24 hours after the final horn in Boston. They will play the San Jose Sharks at home at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Sharks most recently lost 4-1 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday.