WASHINGTON – Brooks Laich spent two long minutes sitting in the penalty box late in the third period, hoping that he hadn't cost his team the game.
His teammates had his back, and then Laich made up for his mistake. Laich netted a power-play goal in overtime to give his Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory Monday night against the Boston Bruins at a sold-out Verizon Center.
The win was the second in a row for Washington, which has already locked up the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the 2010 NHL playoffs. The Bruins did move into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference in the East, one in front of Philadelphia and one behind Montreal for sixth.
"When he took [the penalty], all he wanted was a chance," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You could see it when he came out of the penalty box – he was hungry as all get out. That's why I threw him in front [on the power play], because I knew he'd pay the extra price to get the goal."
Alexander Semin one-timed a pass from Nicklas Backstrom toward the net. The puck hit Laich in the upper part of his thigh and fell to his feet where he was able to calmly knock it into the net for his 25th goal of the season 44 seconds into the extra session.
Laich had taken one of two Washington penalties in the final 10:03 of the third period, but the Capitals went 3-for-3 against Boston's struggling power play. The Bruins have not produced a power-play goal in five games and are 3-for-38 in the past 14.
"They did when they had their chances and we have to score there," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "That's why we go on the power play -- to make them pay -- and we didn't do that."
Rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask made 27 saves for the Bruins, who were without three of the team's top six defensemen and facing the League's top offense. They return home for games against Buffalo and Carolina before another visit to Verizon Center on the final day of the season Sunday.
Backstrom opened the scoring 7:36 into the first period. Alex Ovechkin slipped a beautiful pass through a trio of Bruins to Backstrom and his shot trickled through Rask. There was a lengthy review to determine if the puck made it past the goal line and it was upheld.
"I guess there was some commercials right when it happened so they had to wait for it. I'm still not 100 percent convinced, but the decision is made and you move on," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "That's what we did."
It was Backstrom's 31st of the season, one more than Peter Forsberg – the player Backstrom has most often been compared to – tallied in any of his 12 NHL seasons. Backstrom is also only the second player in Capitals history to have a year with at least 30 goals and 60 assists. Dennis Maruk also did so in 1981-82.
Ovechkin had six shots on net and appeared to be more involved with the offense than he has been in recent contests. He also had two assists to pull within two points of Vancouver's Henrik Sedin for the League lead with three games to play.
"He competed. He got involved," Boudreau said. "He wasn't afraid to hit today. Well, he's never afraid, but ever since that suspension [for boarding Chicago's Brian Campbell] I think it has been on his mind. When he was going in and hitting guys he was turning away a bit. I said, 'You're not a dirty player, so just play the way you normally play.'"
The Bruins were able to pull even with 1.6 seconds left in the opening period. Bergeron won a faceoff in the Washington zone, and Dennis Wideman one-timed a pass from Zdeno Chara through an array of bodies to beat goaltender Jose Theodore and the buzzer.
Boston grabbed the lead at 7:55 of the middle period with a pretty goal from Bergeron. Milan Lucic hit Bergeron, who had slipped behind the Capitals defenders, and he deked to the forehand for his 19th goal of the season despite being hooked on the play.
Mike Knuble knotted the score at two with 28.8 seconds remaining in the second. Ovechkin shoveled the puck toward the front of the net, and Knuble was able to push it between Rask's legs.
"We'll take anything right now. That's a big point for us," Boston forward Mark Recchi said. "It is something we can continue to build on. It spreads us a little farther from the Rangers and Philly and gets us a point closer to Montreal, so anything helps at this point."
Capitals defenseman Mike Green did not dress for the game. Boudreau had said he would consider resting some of his star players because the team has back-to-back games.
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg did not play because of a cut on his wrist in Boston’s game Saturday and subsequent 15 stitches. Forward Shawn Thornton missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
Washington also signed 20-year-old Dustin Stevenson to a three-year, entry-level contract. Stevenson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman was the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League player of the year and had committed to play for St. Lawrence before inking the deal.