Holtby carries Caps in 4-1 defeat of Bruins
WASHINGTON (AP) — Braden Holtby’s bid for another shutout against the Boston Bruins ended with a wicked bounce and a lucky first-period goal.
While the Bruins got caught up in the joy of the moment, Holtby kept his focus on getting a win for the Washington Capitals.
And he delivered.
Holtby stopped 28 shots and the Capitals handed the Bruins their first road loss of the season, 4-1 on Thursday night.
After blanking Boston in all three games between the teams last season, Holtby fell behind 1-0 when a centering pass from Brett Connolly ricocheted high off the stick of Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen, hit Jimmy Hayes in the chest and bounced into the net.
It would be the lone score from a team that came in with an NHL-best 3.82 goals per game average.
“He doesn’t really get rattled by anything,” Capitals center Brooks Laich said of Holtby. “The first one’s a bad-luck goal, doesn’t faze him. He just locked it down the rest of the way.”
The Bruins took the game’s first four shots and held the early lead, but couldn’t sustain the momentum.
“I thought once we scored that goal, that’s when we took our foot off the gas and let them get themselves back into the game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said.
Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 with his seventh goal of the season and 482nd of his career, one short of Sergei Fedorov for most among Russian-born players in NHL history.
Goals by Laich, John Carlson and Karl Alzner followed, and Washington left the ice with a 9-3-0 record, matching the best start in franchise history.
“I liked the way we just progressively, I think, took over as the game went on,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said.
Boston was the league’s last unbeaten team on the road at 5-0-0.
The Capitals went up 2-1 at 4:10 of the second period when Dimitry Orlov fired a shot from the right point that hit Laich’s leg and dribbled past goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Carlson gave Washington a two-goal cushion at 7:21 of the period, scoring off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom with two Bruins in the penalty box. Backstrom has nine points in nine games this season and 28 points in 26 career games against Boston.
The 5-on-3 occurred after a penalty was called on Brad Marchand for pounding T.J. Oshie in the head.
“I thought the second-period penalties were really bad on our part,” Julien said.
Holtby turned aside all seven Boston shots in the third period, and Alzner clinched it with an empty net goal at 18:10.
“I think our forecheck was really good in the third period,” Holtby said. “We did a good job of realizing we had the lead and we didn’t need any more goals.”
Early on, after the Bruins ended their scoring drought against Holtby at 199 minutes, 30 seconds, Ovechkin tied it by firing home a rebound while falling to his knees.
Not long after that, Boston fell behind for good.
“We did have control the first half of the period, and after we scored that goal, they kind of took over,” Marchand said. ‘We can’t let that happen.”
Notes: Ovechkin has a point (7 goals, 7 assists) in 10 of 11 games this season. ... Laich played in his 694th game with the Capitals, passing Steve Konowalchuk for ninth place on the team list. ... Boston’s Kevan Miller played in his 100th career game. ... Julien and Trotz will serve as assistants for Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. ... It was the first of three games in four nights for the Bruins, who face Montreal on Saturday and the Islanders on Sunday.