The Washington Capitals are playing like a team that may never lose again.
The Caps set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive win by beating the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Tuesday night. Brooks Laich broke a tie early in the third period as the Capitals scored the game's last four goals after spotting the Bruins an early lead, and Jose Theodore made 41 saves, including one on David Krejci's second-period penalty shot.
The Capitals broke the club record of 10 wins set from Jan. 27-Feb. 18, 1984 and have the NHL's longest winning streak since the San Jose Sharks won 11 in a row from Feb. 21-March 14, 2008. The Capitals, who lead the Eastern Conference, have outscored opponents 51-22 during the streak.
''It's pretty mind-boggling,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''It's a good milestone for these guys and you could see when they got the lead we finally started playing better.''
They set the franchise record on a night when their coach said they weren't at their best.
"We didn't play really well, but we found a way to win, because they believed we could win," Boudreau said. "When you're on a winning streak, you find ways, good things happen. When you're losing, you hit crossbars and the other goalie makes incredible saves like Theo did tonight."
The Bruins, who finished first in the East last season, are as cold as the Caps are hot. They've dropped eight in a row (0-6-2) and have been outscored 28-12 during the slide. It's their longest losing streak since they dropped eight in a row from Dec. 22, 1955 to Jan. 12, 1956.
"Tonight I really thought we deserved the win," said Boston coach Claude Julien, whose team outshot Washington 42-26 and carried the play for most of the first two periods. "If we had scored some goals, it could have been, in my mind, 4-1 for us after two periods. We came out of that period tied, and the minute we made a mistake, it was in our net.
"Those are things right now you get frustrated at. We hit two or three posts. We missed some really quality chances. We've hit some hot goaltending as of late, but we've got to keep plugging away."
The Bruins are also 0-6-1 at home since their last win in Boston, 2-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers in the outdoor Winter Classic at FenwayPark. Their last win at TD Garden was a 4-0 victory over Atlanta on Dec. 30. The home losing streak is their longest since 1924-25.
Julien said he's not sure whether to push his players more or ease up a bit.
"That's what we're thinking about now -- do we push them harder or ease up to reduce the tension," he said. "I wish I had the answer now. It's something we really have to look into."
The difference in the game was Theodore, who was outstanding.
"He was in a complete zone today, and I hope he stays there," Boudreau said.
Theodore, who's had his ups and downs with the Caps, was glad to be in on the record.
"It's fun to be part of franchise history," he said. "Getting that 11th win and beating the old record, it's great. … It started in Florida when we were down 4-1 and came back. That was big turning point for the team and myself. It was good for my confidence. From there, I've played every game and I've felt good."
The NHL's lowest-scoring team actually got the jump on the League's highest-scoring club when Krejci scored at 6:58 of the first period, just eight seconds into a 5-on-3 power play. Marc Savard passed from low in the right circle across the crease where Krejci beat Jose Theodore for his 10th goal of the season.
The Bruins led after one period for the first time since Jan. 5, when they won 4-1 at Ottawa. Boston is 1-9-2 since then.
Krejci had a chance to give the Bruins a lead on a penalty shot at 10:34 of the second period after Knuble hit him from behind on a breakaway, but shot wide to Theodore's left.
Laich got the go-ahead goal after a turnover by Boston defenseman Matt Hunwick, who passed the puck behind his net out to the left boards. Washington's Alexander Semin picked up the errant pass and fed Laich, who scored his 17th of the season on a quick shot from the slot.
Boyd Gordon made it 3-1 with his second goal at 7:51 on a pass from Poti from along the right boards. Thomas skated toward Poti, who sent the puck to Gordon in the slot, and Gordon hit the open left side of the net.
Alex Ovechkin finished the scoring by hitting the empty net with 32 seconds left for his 36th goal of the season.
The Capitals have all but salted away the Southeast Division title and are now 10 points ahead of second-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference race. But Poti, who had two assists, is looking at the bigger picture.
''It's nice to have streaks and stuff,'' he said, ''but we have bigger dreams and bigger goals.''
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|PPG - David Krejci (10) ASST: Marc Savard (16), Dennis Wideman (13)|
1 - 0 BOS
|Mike Knuble (19) ASST: Tom Poti (16), Nicklas Backstrom (41)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brooks Laich (17) ASST: Alexander Semin (31)|
2 - 1 WSH
|Boyd Gordon (2) ASST: Tom Poti (17), Brian Pothier (7)|
3 - 1 WSH
|EN - Alex Ovechkin (36) ASST: NONE|
4 - 1 WSH
|Nicklas Backstrom Holding against Derek Morris|
|Blake Wheeler Interference against Brooks Laich|
|Matt Bradley Tripping against David Krejci|
|Alexander Semin Hi-sticking against Zdeno Chara|
|Alexander Semin Hooking against Michael Ryder|
|Michael Ryder Hooking against Eric Fehr|
|Marco Sturm Holding against Tom Poti|
|Patrice Bergeron Hooking against Alex Ovechkin|
|Alexander Semin Hooking against Patrice Bergeron|
|Alex Ovechkin Slashing against Mark Recchi|