By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Boring simply doesn’t exist when it comes to the Bruins and Capitals.
Buried into a 3-0 hole, the B’s clawed and clawed until Charlie McAvoy tied things up with just 50 seconds remaining in the third period of their Saturday night meeting with the Capitals at Capital One Arena. But for all the sweat poured out throughout their second-half push, the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin needed just a couple of inches of open ice in the overtime frame to fire an absolute laser through Tuukka Rask and help Washington escape with a 4-3 victory.
“At the end of the day, we battled back,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “So I’m looking at it as a positive. There’s a lot of things I liked about our game. I thought we did a lot of things well. Certainly well enough to earn two points. We got one, so we’ll focus on getting two on Monday.”
Before the B’s settled for the single point, Washington center Nicklas Backstrom opened the game’s scoring with a rip through Rask at the 18:06 mark of the first period. The goal was a swift kick between the legs for the Bruins considering the way they dominated the period — the Bruins had over 11 shots six minutes in the game and finished the first period with a 19-7 advantage in shots — and held as the game’s lone tally through 20 minutes.
(Backstrom’s goal was probably a bad sign for the Bruins, too, as the Capitals entered this game with a 13-0-0 record when Backstrom records at least one point against the B’s on home ice.)
The Capitals then doubled their lead on a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot through Nick Ritchie and Jakub Zboril, and pushed it out to three with a Richard Panik power-play tip through Rask less than five minutes later.
But the Bruins got on the board before the end of the second period thanks to a Nick Ritchie power-play goal banked off his leg and through Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek with 2:28 left in the third period.
Things then got real for the Black and Gold with Brad Marchand’s fifth goal of the season, scored six minutes into the third period, and with a couple of power-play opportunities drawn by the Bruins before McAvoy’s game-tying goal.
Charlie McAvoy ties it up.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 31, 2021
On to overtime. pic.twitter.com/fO8XNtxvNT
It wasn’t the best night for the 33-year-old Rask, who was given three straight days off after suffering what appeared to be an injury of some sort in an overtime win over the Penguins on Tuesday, with four goals on 23 shots faced.
“We made a few mistakes and they’re a team that can capitalize in a hurry,” Cassidy noted. “But you need saves to pick you up too in some of those instances. We are a young team. We’ve talked about that. We’re gonna make some mistakes at times. And then [we need to] finish at their end. We had some looks [Vanecek] saved, but I think we also missed some off-net chances that we certainly could’ve scored on.”
Vanecek countered Rask with a Braden Holtby-esque line featuring 41 saves in the Washington crease.
Bruins winger David Pastrnak made his return to the Boston lineup and finished with an assist and five shots on goal to go with a forward-leading 20:39 of time on ice. Karson Kuhlman also made his 2021 debut after missing almost all of training camp due to COVID issues, and logged three shots on goal in 12:19 of play.
Zdeno Chara, meanwhile, who departed the Bruins for Washington after spending the previous 14 years as the captain of the Bruins, played his first contest against the Bruins since Apr. 11, 2006.
The 43-year-old had a plus-1 rating and team-leading six blocks in 20:54 of action.
The Capitals have now captured victories in 17 of their last 19 head-to-heads with the Bruins, and have won 13 of their last 16 home head-to-heads with the Bruins dating back to Nov. 2010.
The Bruins and Capitals will reconvene for a rematch on Monday night.