March 6, 2014

Rask cruises to shutout, first career win over Capitals

By Jesse Connolly

The man on the right wasn't as big of a threat to the man on the left this time around. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 3, Washington 0

Recap: The first 20 minutes of play between the Bruins and Caps on Thursday should be put in its entirety on YouTube and promptly hyperlinked under the entry for "uneventful" in every online dictionary. If you don't believe me, well, it doesn't matter because I'm moving forward to the second period.

In the middle frame, with an extra attacker on due to a delayed penalty on Washington, Gregory Campbell redirected a shot from Patrice Bergeron past Braden Holtby to give the Black and Gold a 1-0 lead. They doubled their edge five minutes later at the 8:20 mark, when Carl Soderberg hit Loui Eriksson on a feed from behind the net. The winger and his healed heel roofed a shot from close range over Holtby.

The Capitals had eight shots in the third, doubling the total they had through two periods to finish with 16, but Rask stopped everything they threw his way. Brad Marchand iced it with an empty-netter at the 18:26 mark of the final frame.

Records: Boston (40-17-5, 85 points); Washington (29-25-10, 68 points)

Key Play of the Game: Early in the third, Alex Ovechkin got the puck in front with Rask out of position. Had he just redirected the puck, he would've cut the B's lead to 2-1. Instead, he tried to switch to his forehand. Rask looked like he was able to get a piece of the shot with his stick, and the puck slid just wide of the post.

Connolly's Commendations: The B's third line continues to show what an asset they'll be if they can continue to produce down the stretch and into the playoffs. The trio of Soderberg, Eriksson and Chris Kelly had six shots on goal, which probably doesn't quite tell the story of their territorially-dominant performance. Soderberg won all six faceoffs he took.

Who would've guessed Campbell would be one of the B's hottest forwards coming out of the break? The fourth-line center now has four goals in the last four games.

Kudos to Rask for not falling asleep at any point. Washington managed four shots in each of the first two periods. Big difference from the last time they were here.

Holtby's been pretty awful since the Olympic break concluded, but he got hosed by his clearly exhausted teammates tonight. Hard to ever find a guy who made 40 saves at fault.

Connolly's Critiques: It's a shame that fans don't get a 50 percent refund when the opponent fails to show up. That's how the world should work, in my humble opinion. 

Notes: For Rask, the win was his first ever against Washington. He came in at 0-3-3. ... Conversely, Holtby was 4-0-0 in the regular season against Boston coming in. ... Eriksson ended a nine-game goal drought.

Final Thoughts: It was pretty obvious from the get-go that the Capitals were a team feeling the effects of playing a high-scoring, physical affair against the Flyers just one night prior. They were running on fumes from the minute the game started and never had any semblance of sustained offense. This was a pretty bad hockey game, but the Bruins will take the two points.

Next: The B's will travel down to Tampa to take on newcomer Ryan Callahan and the Lightning.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ