With a 4-1-0 record since the NHL’s COVID shutdown over the holidays, the Boston Bruins will look to keep their hot streak going when they visit the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
The Bruins delivered perhaps their most impressive performance of that stretch on Saturday, collecting a 5-2 road win over the defending two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins scored the first four goals, including two from David Pastrnak in the first 6:10 of play.
Brad Marchand also scored twice, and he took Saturday’s win as “another step in the right direction” for his club while acknowledging that the Lightning had a rare off-night.
“It’s definitely something we can continue to build on,” Marchand said. “We’ve been a lot better recently. Ever since the Christmas break, we’ve been playing really good hockey, and we’ve been in every game.”
This will be the first meeting between the Bruins and Capitals since last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Boston eliminated Washington in five games in their first-round series.
This season, Washington is winless (0-1-2) over its past three games, including a hard-luck 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
The Capitals led 2-0 until 13:55 of the second period when Carl Hagelin made an ill-advised pass on a delayed penalty. With Washington goalie Zach Fucale already headed to the bench for the extra attacker, Hagelin’s pass went almost the length of the ice and found the Capitals’ empty net.
With their lead reduced to one goal, the Capitals nearly held on before Minnesota’s Mats Zuccarello scored the equalizer with 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
“I thought we played well tonight,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s disappointing on the results. You talk about the first goal, and then they tie it up at the end and win in a shootout, so it leaves you with a really lousy taste in your mouth.”
Washington is on its second three-game winless streak of the season, although the Capitals have yet to lose consecutive games in regulation.
Since the Wild’s first goal didn’t count against Fucale, the rookie goaltender entered the NHL’s record books for the longest goal-less streak to begin a career. Fucale didn’t allow a score over his first 138 minutes and 7 seconds of ice time before Zuccarello’s tally.
It is possible Fucale might get another start Monday if the struggling Ilya Samsonov is given another game off or if Vitek Vanecek is still sidelined with a non-COVID illness. Besides Vanecek, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are questionable for Monday with that same illness.
Linus Ullmark stopped 27 of 29 saves for Boston against the Lightning. Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have been splitting starts all season with Tuukka Rask out, so Swayman might start against Washington if the Bruins stick to their recent rotation. Rask is tentatively expected to make his season debut later in the week.
Boston’s Jake DeBrusk and Tomas Nosek (COVID protocol) are questionable for Monday. Charlie McAvoy could be available to return after missing the Bruins’ last two games with a lower-body injury.
Nick Foligno won’t play Monday after incurring a lower-body injury against the Lightning. Foligno left Saturday’s contest during the first period.
Boston’s Taylor Hall has six points (two goals, four assists) during a five-game points streak.
–Field Level Media