Back in Boston for their first extended homestand in what feels like weeks on the road, including a one-game stop in Lake Tahoe, the Bruins were welcomed back to TD Garden in the worst possible fashion: with a tight-checking, playoff-esque head-to-head with the Capitals, and one that ultimately favored the Caps by a 2-1 shootout final.
On Boston ice for the first time in 14 months (time flies when you’re stuck indoors), the Capitals appeared to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first period on some blown defensive-zone coverage from the Bruins’ new Jarred Tinordi-Connor Clifton pairing, with TJ Oshie looking like the beneficiary of the gaffe.
But a successful coach’s challenge from Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy (somehow) determined that the Capitals were offside after a lengthy review, the Bruins got their bailout, and the game remained scoreless.
It held that way for the remainder of the first period, too, with its most buzz coming in the final minute of play, with both teams basically trying to murder one another, with Garnet Hathaway and Charlie McAvoy exchanging body blows while Tinordi and Chris Wagner teamed up for a sandwich hit on the Caps’ Carl Hagelin.
The dueling donuts held through 40 minutes of play, too, with the sides combining for just 20 total shots (11 for Washington and nine for Boston) after two periods of play.
In need of a boost, the Bruins finally broke the ice at the 1:19 mark of the third period by way of David Pastrnak’s 10th goal of the season, scored off a beautiful feed from Brad Marchand for his 14th helper of the campaign.
Brad Marchand forces the turnover and sets up David Pastrnak's 10th goal of the season.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 4, 2021
1-0 Boston. pic.twitter.com/6YRiUs8hff
Boston’s lead wouldn’t last, however, as a defensive-zone turnover from Sean Kuraly kept the Bruins pinned in their own zone long enough for Lars Eller to put the Capitals on the board with his fifth tally of the season.
With momentum seemingly on the Caps side, the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask came through with what was certainly his biggest stop of the night — and in throwback fashion — with a pad-stack on Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
But the sides remained tied at one, and it was off to overtime for the second time in three meetings this year, and then to the shootout, where the Caps prevailed in three rounds thanks to Jakub Vrana’s round one strike.
The Bruins, meanwhile, were held off the board in all three rounds, with Jake DeBrusk, Pastrnak, and then Marchand all denied by the Capitals’ Vitek Vanecek, who made 18 saves in the winning effort.
Rask, meanwhile, took the loss despite a strong 27-of-28 effort, including two game-saving overtime saves, the first on Dmitry Orlov and the second on Nicklas Backstrom.
Center Charlie Coyle was a late scratch from this game due to COVID protocols. Coyle is the second Bruin to land on the league’s COVID list this season, and the first since Karson Kuhlman began the 2021 season on it.
And though this wasn’t Zdeno Chara’s first game against his former team, it was his first game at TD Garden as a road visitor since Mar. 16, 2006. The 43-year-old Chara finished with two hits and a plus-1 in 16:59, and with one video tribute honoring his 14-year run with the Bruins played a TV timeout in the first period.
This is very weird with no fans here. pic.twitter.com/rzifw24cEc— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) March 4, 2021
The Bruins and Capitals will reconvene for a Friday night tilt at TD Garden.