BOSTON - What a difference a week makes.
When the Bruins left TD Garden last Sunday, they did so battered and bruised, losers of two straight games. They were missing four of their top six defensemen and appeared to be on the brink of slipping out of a playoff spot.
Seven days later, however, the fortunes of the Black & Gold are as bright as they've been all season. The Bruins looked like a far different team than the one that was steamrolled, 8-1, on home ice a week ago - and in many ways they are, thanks to a healthier lineup and some new trade deadline additions.
But on Sunday afternoon, it was their old reliables that, once again, came through when they needed them most. Behind a stellar performance from their top dogs that included two goals each from Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci, the Bruins took down the Capitals, 6-3, for their fourth straight victory.
"We need that," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "The big boys came to play today on both lines and we're dangerous when that happens."
Video: Marchand records four points, Bruins defeat Capitals
Patrice Bergeron - 2 goals, assist
The Bruins captain collected his fourth multi-goal game of the season with a pair of beauties, the first of which was yet another shorthanded tally. Marchand started it with a furious forecheck that forced a turnover into the slot. Bergeron was there just in time to collect it and finish with a nifty backhander for a 1-0 Bruins lead with 7:58 left in the first.
Per NHL Stats, it was the 29th shorthanded goal that the two have factored on together, which trails only Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri (41) and Don Luce and Craig Ramsay (31) for the highest combined total among teammates in league history.
"He's on the puck, he's reading the play really well," said Bergeron. "I think we read off each other well as well and we're trying to be aggressive. That's what he does. He's not only able to kill well in his zone, but you have to be aware of him going on the offense and making you pay if he does have time.
"He's definitely a threat every time he's on the ice on that PK and a treat to play with."
Bergeron's second of the afternoon was just as pretty, as the top line combined for the 21,000th goal in the club's history. Pastrnak (three assists) started it by forcing a turnover at the Bruins' blue line to spring him and Marchand on a 2-on-1.
Marchand dished over to Pastrnak, who left a forehand drop pass to a trailing Bergeron in the slot where he buried a one-timer to put the B's up, 5-3, with 2:15 remaining in the second.
Video: WSH@BOS: Bergeron caps rush with second goal of game
David Krejci - 2 goals
Krejci notched his first two-goal game since January 2020 and now has points in each of the B's four games since the deadline (three goals, two assists), during which he has been flanked by Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.
The longtime Bruins pivot gave Boston a 2-0 lead with 6:04 to go in the first when he tapped home a Connor Clifton feed from the top of the crease.
Krejci's second of the afternoon was a gorgeous blend of patience, skill, and finish as he took a dish from Smith (18 points in his last 16 games), paused, dangled around a diving Dmitry Orlov, and then sniped top shelf over Caps goalie Vitek Vanecek.
"We're at the tail end of a power play," said Cassidy. "We're fortunate we had four forwards and they were digging around to get the loose pucks. Hall makes a good play to keep it alive. Smitty makes a good play. We had a net presence. Jake's at the net. Nice combination of things happened against an aggressive kill. That's what you have to do. You have to win a puck and get it to the open guy and usually if you create that situation against their aggressiveness, you'll get a good look, and we did.
"And good for Krech…I'm not going to lie, I'm on the bench and I'm like, 'Come on Krech, shoot the damn thing.' There's been a couple of times he's looked off shots to make plays and he's got a good shot, especially from the slot. But, he knows the game. Got as good a feel as anybody. Found the right spot. Good goal for us. Timing was excellent."
Video: WSH@BOS: Krejci puts Bruins ahead with goal
Brad Marchand - 2 goals, 2 assists
Marchand continued his MVP-worthy campaign with a four-point afternoon. In addition to assisting on both of Bergeron's markers, the winger picked up two of his own, including the tying goal at 6:33 of the second that made it 3-3 after Washington had potted three straight to overcome a two-goal deficit.
"That's the poise you want to see during the course of a game," said Bergeron. "In the second, they took the lead and we stuck with it. We know that if we play the right way we can get back in game, we've done it many times before. It was nice to see that poise and that confidence."
He finished his impressive showing with an empty-netter with 1:44 left for his 700th career point in his 792nd career game. Marchand became just the ninth player in Bruins history to hit that mark and, per NHL Stats, the fifth fastest to do so behind Phil Esposito (447 games), Bobby Orr (518), Rick Middleton (639), and Ray Bourque (660).
Video: WSH@BOS: Marchand scores ENG for second goal of game
On the Injury Front
Jarred Tinordi subbed in for Jakub Zboril on the back end but left the game in the third period after taking a hit from behind into the boards from Garnet Hathaway with 10:39 remaining. Following a video review, Hathaway was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
"There was a lot going on. They're physical games against them," Cassidy said of the hit, as well as another questionable check from behind on Sean Kuraly by Tom Wilson earlier in the third period. "I think there was one earlier on [Charlie] McAvoy at the end of the second that was more, sort of, bothersome. He's up against the boards. Made contact with the head…and there was one on [Steven] Kampfer even in the first period. It's late. Those are the ones that bother you when guys leave their feet.
"I think the Wilson one on Kuraly, Kuraly was on his way down. Wilson was actually just prepared to hit him. I thought that one was one of those incidental - there's not much you can do once the guy starts tumbling down. Looked like there was some stuff going on in the corner, that's what our bench was yelling about with a hold and a hook that might have led to him going down.
"The Hathaway one, it's from behind. It's tough on Jarred. He comes out with some facial injuries. Hopefully, he's not concussed. At the end of the day, that's boarding. Whether it's five, two, however you look at it. That's up to the refs to look at and determine."
- Zboril sat out with a non-COVID related illness, Cassidy said before the game.
- Trent Frederic is recovered from his own non-COVID related illness but with the addition of Curtis Lazar providing some new life to Boston's fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, the young winger is currently the odd man out, per Cassidy.
- Jaroslav Halak has resumed skating and could join his teammates on Monday. The netminder was removed from COVID protocol on Saturday after spending 12 days on the list.
- Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) is progressing and could join the team for the upcoming road trip to Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
Video: Cassidy talks win over Capitals