Against a goaltender who had their number throughout his career, the last thing the Bruins wanted to do was chase the game against Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals. Trailing 3-0 in the second period, that’s exactly what happened in the nation’s capital on Wednesday night thanks to a pair of first period goals from Justin Williams and Daniel Winnik’s tally in the middle stanza.
Like they’ve done in the last couple of weeks, however, the Bruins persevered.
In a valiant effort, the Bruins, who started to play better by the last few minutes of the first period, were relentless in their pursuit of the puck and kept the Caps on their heels following Winnik’s fourth of the season. It all came together starting with Dominic Moore’s seventh of the season and David Pastrnak’s career-high 16th tally just 2:25 apart late in the second period. By the time Colin Miller notched his second of the season (a power play tally) to even things up at 8:19 of the third, the Bruins had outshot the Caps 17-0 from the time of Winnik’s tally at 5:51 of the second.
Nicklas Backstrom got the last laugh with the overtime winner, but things certainly could have been worse for the Black and Gold following their early deficit. Here is what we learned as the B’s extended their streak of notching at least one point to six straight.
It took Pastrnak 51 games to notch 15 goals in his second season in the NHL. In his 22nd game this year, Pastrnak surpassed last year’s total.
By the time he completed his forehand-backhand move on Holtby late in the second period, Pastrnak moved within one goal of co-league leaders Sidney Crosby and Patrik Laine. Since returning from an upper-body injury against the Senators on Thanksgiving night, the 2014 first round pick has eight points (six goals, two assists) in as many games.
Surely the mere mention of Pastrnak’s season is one of the top stories of the young season. He’s become a core member of the Black and Gold in just his third year and will be in for a nice raise following the final season of his entry-level contract. Bruins fans are hoping that contract extension comes sooner rather than later.
A rough night for Carlo
He’s certainly been one of the better rookie defensemen in the league through the first third of the season, but against Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps forwards, Brandon Carlo hit the proverbial rookie wall.
Just 23 seconds in, his rough night started with Justin Williams outmuscling him in front of Tuukka Rask for his first of two goals. Shortly after, he found himself skating alongside Kevan Miller while Adam McQuaid took his spot on the top defensive unit with Zdeno Chara.
Despite logging a team-high 22:30 time on ice, Carlo had a rough time against the talented crop of Caps forwards. The good thing for the Colorado Springs-born blue-liner? He’ll be back at it tomorrow night in the team’s second and final meeting of the season with the Avalanche.
Presumably, a good time for Rask to get some rest
With another set of back to backs concluding tomorrow, head coach Claude Julien will likely give the nod to Anton Khudobin when the Bruins hit the TD Garden ice against Jarome Iginla and the Avs. While he had his moments against the Caps, including a flurry of saves in the first period to keep the deficit at two, Rask has had a rather pedestrian pair of performances comparably dating back to Monday’s 4-3 win over the Panthers. Rask finished Wednesday night tallying just 16 saves on 20 shots.
Given that his save percentage has been under .910 in three of his last four starts, Rask should get some well-needed rest before he presumably goes up against a Maple Leafs squad that he’s done very well against throughout his career. In 22 games played against the team that selected him in the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft, Rask is 15-3-2 with a 1.87 goals against average, a save percentage of .935 and a pair of shutouts.
Player safety department will have their hands full
Given the intensity and the questionable hits Wednesday night, the NHL Player Safety Department will be reviewing this game closely.
While no formal announcement has been released by the league, players from both sides might be given a phone hearing from the higher-ups at the Avenue of Americas in New York. From an uncharacteristic hit from behind by Patrice Bergeron on Matt Niskanen that caused the Caps defensemen to miss the rest of the game, to Tom Wilson blindsiding Anton Blidh near the stanchion (also known as the “Pacioretty panel”) between the benches and Jakub Vrana boarding Tim Schaller, Player Safety will have their hands full watching these situations play out for a second time.
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