BOSTON - The Bruins had plenty they wanted to accomplish on Monday night.
Heading into their contest against the Washington Capitals, the Black & Gold had dropped three straight to open the homestand, pushing their overall home losing streak to five. And they hadn't beaten the Caps on Causeway Street since March 2014.
With the three-day Christmas break in sight, Boston wanted nothing more than to snap all of those streaks in one fell swoop.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Krejci notched three points (goal, two assists) as Boston erupted for four goals in the opening period and cruised to a 7-3 victory over the Capitals at TD Garden.
"Tonight's game going into the break has been a long time coming," said Brad Marchand, who broke a 12-game goal-less stretch with a first-period marker. "We've been losing games we deserve to win and just seemed like every bounce has been going against us, every mistake we make was kind of ending up in our net. That's good to have the bounces go the other way tonight and good feeling going into the break."
Video: Locker Room Raw: Brad Marchand
After dropping eight of nine, a victory over the NHL's top team certainly had the Bruins - who now sit just 4 points back of the Caps for the No. 1 spot - feeling good heading into the holiday hiatus.
"We're not even halfway through the year, we're at 53 points in and sitting at a pretty good spot," said Marchand. "I think a lot of people are making a lot of noise outside of the room that was blowing it a bit out of proportion…we're not panicking here. We're going to take the time to regroup.
"It's always a fun time of year to spend with your family and friends…we'll enjoy it for sure."
More notes and observations from Boston's big win over the Capitals:
First Things First
Boston broke through with a monster first period to grab a 4-0 advantage after 20 minutes, which chased perennial B's killer Braden Holtby (seven saves on 11 shots) from the net. Jake DeBrusk got things going with a second-effort power-play tally from the doorstep at 5:47, before the Bruins struck for two goals in 27 seconds later in the opening frame.
Marchand notched his 19th of the season by fighting through Washington defenseman John Carlson to tap a loose puck by Holtby from the top of the crease with 6:31 to go in the first. And Anders Bjork followed by ripping a wrister by Holtby from the slot off a feed from Charlie Coyle, whose strong work - along with Sean Kuraly - to free the puck set the tone.
"It was big to have the start that we did," said Marchand. "It's a lot easier to play this team when you have the lead. Make them take chances that maybe they wouldn't if they had the lead. So, it was big for us. A lot of us felt comfortable in the game earlier on and then we just rolled from there."
Bergeron capped the barrage with 1:03 left in the period for his first of two tallies. After a rare double penalty call on the Caps, Boston was toward the end of a two-minute 5-on-3 when Bergeron deflected a David Pastrnak feed by Holtby for a 4-0 advantage.
"It's the difference in the game, clearly," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team's first period. "Good for us to get inside. Marchy's goal, again, a shot and a rebound inside - established some good net-front presence, got rewarded. Holtby typically makes a lot of those saves on us…tonight, they found a way in, so important for our start.
"It'd been a while since we were in the winner circle here. You put all those things together…a good Washington team that's had our number, and then going into the break - even though you're going to separate yourself from hockey for three days, it's still your last game. You'd like it to be a good memory."
Video: WSH@BOS: Bruins build big lead with four-goal 1st
100 for Coyle
As good as their first period was, the Bruins struggled to find their bearings in the second, as they were outshot, 17-2, during the frame. One of those shots, however, ended up in the back of the net, helping Boston come out of the period even.
Coyle made it 5-0 at 6:55 of the period with a beautiful shorthanded tally, marking his 100th career goal. Marchand fought through the neutral zone to get to a loose puck and tapped it ahead to the Weymouth native, who pulled away and lifted one over the glove of Holtby.
"It's a good team over there and we were in a desperate need of a win," said Coyle. "We came out right out of the gates and we got one early on and kept the momentum going…Marchand had a nice read and blocked the play and I just tried to keep up and then finish."
Video: WSH@BOS: Coyle scores on shorthanded breakaway
The Capitals - led by well-known agitator Tom Wilson - turned up the physicality over the final two periods, at the expense of the Bruins, who had blue liners Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy exit with injuries following heavy hits.
Krug was decked by Wilson in the second period and did not return after suffering an upper-body injury when he tumbled into the boards.
"He'll get, like everybody, evaluated," said Cassidy. "We'll see how he is…obviously didn't come back so that's always a concern, but until he gets looked at further tonight and tomorrow, we won't know."
McAvoy, meanwhile, took a heavy hit from T.J. Oshie in the closing seconds and headed to the dressing room with the medical staff. Cassidy, however, seemed encouraged by the defenseman's condition after the game.
"Went and saw him, he seems to be OK," said Cassidy. "But again, until he gets looked at…"
Pastrnak (two assists) also tussled with Wilson in the third period as the two were sent off for roughing following a scrum in the neutral zone. Pastrnak was whacked in the groin by Wilson - who was also given a 10-minute misconduct - seconds before, though Boston's top scorer said he was not sure if there was any intent.
"There were a few incidents tonight. I imagine player safety might be a little bit busy," said Cassidy. "I know if it was a guy like a Marchand of the world, they'd be getting looked at, so there was a few spears and some of those. I don't want to say it was clean or dirty because I have not looked at it and imagine it will get looked at. They'll have to judge that accordingly, right?"
Video: Locker Room Raw: David Pastrnak
Zee Doing 'Great'
Boston was without captain Zdeno Chara on Monday night as the 42-year-old underwent a procedure on his jaw to clean up an infection from the hardware inserted following the fracture he suffered in last June's Stanley Cup Final. After the game, Cassidy said the procedure "went great" and he anticipates that Chara will be in the lineup on Friday night in Buffalo.
"He's healing well, should be available for the game coming out of the break, unless there's any sort of setback today," said Cassidy. "But as of this morning, things went well so anticipating a quick return."
Video: Press Room: Bruce Cassidy