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Caps Bounce Bruins, 4-2

Holtby and the Caps continue their mastery of the B's and their road dominance of Eastern foes

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

Braden Holtby started his career with a win over the Boston Bruins in his NHL debut a little over eight years ago, and he has continued to vex the Beantowners ever since.

Holtby's 39-save effort against the B's on Thursday night in Boston again left the black and gold boys on the short side of a 4-2 score, and it ran his career regular season record to 16-2-0 against Boston.

So it wasn't all that surprising when the first query of the Caps goalie in the postgame media scrum was this: Do you own the Bruins?

"We play pretty good against them," came Holtby's diplomatic reply. "You know, I think we've had success against them, but they've always been good games. Just one of those things that seems to just happen, but they're fun to play against. They battle, especially in tough areas, which might be why we're so engaged in the games when we play them because they play hard-style hockey every game."

Video: Ovechkin, Holtby power Capitals past Bruins, 4-2

With their win over the Bruins on Thursday night, the Capitals stretched their reign of domination over the B's to 14 straight games, and they also racked up their 10th straight road victory over Eastern Conference opponents.

This was no typical road win, though; there was a lot of gratification to be had in the wake of this one.

The Caps never trailed on Thursday, and both times the Bruins scored, Washington answered right back to retake the lead as the Boston goal was being announced, taking the crowd right out of the contest.

Knowing the Bruins would be of surly disposition given Washington's years of dominance over them, the 7-0 beating the Caps handed them in the District in the Oct. 3 season opener between the two teams, and halting the Bruins' own winning streak at five straight made for a satisfying evening for the Caps.

Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | January 10

"Anytime the first game of the year goes the way it did, there's a little bit of bad blood in that game," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "I think we knew they were going to come out of the gate hard at us. Our team was certainly prepared for that I think we held off that initial push from them really well. And then took advantage of our chances when we got them."

The game had the feel of a playoff tilt or even a street fight at times; 17 of Washington's 18 skaters were credited with at least one hit, and the only one who wasn't - Lars Eller - was more than willing to use his fists to hit the face of Boston irritant Brad Marchand, who declined, ostensibly because he couldn't get the first lick in on this occasion. Marchand sneak attacked and sucker-punched Eller in the season opener, but wanted no part of a fair fight with the Great Dane on Thursday.

Two Washington players - T.J. Oshie and Dmitry Orlov - were sent off to undergo the concussion protocol, and Oshie's face bore some fresh scrapes when he was asked if this one felt like a street fight.

"My face would suggest that, I think," says Oshie. "But yeah, it was a little scrappy out there. It had a little bit of a playoff feel which we have experience in, and I think we like here."

Boston entered the game with the league's second best home ice record at 16-5-0, and the Bruins also came into the contest as the league's stingiest team at five-on-five, having allowed just 66 tallies of that type in 43 games. The Caps scored three of their four goals at five-on-five on Thursday.

Because the B's are typically so staunch defensively and they don't give up much off the rush, the Caps anticipated that might need to rely on the forecheck or some sustained offensive zone presence to generate goals. But as it turned out, they were able to get a couple off the rush.

After killing off an early penalty against a torrid Boston power play, the Caps jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 6:38 of the first frame when T.J. Oshie sprung Jakub Vrana on a breakaway, and the Caps' splendid sophomore beat Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak to give the visitors an early lead.

Washington nursed that 1-0 lead until the latter stages of the second, weathering a couple more Boston power plays in the process, until Boston's Ryan Donato tied the game at 1-1 with a drive from the right circle at 14:11 of the second.

The Caps retook the lead quickly, putting some heat on the Bruins behind their own net. When Brandon Carlo's ill-advised blind pass went right to Tom Wilson behind the Boston cage, Wilson whipped a perfect pass to the front for Alex Ovechkin, who beat Halak to restore the Caps' lead a mere 39 seconds after Donato's goal.

Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | January 10

Washington killed off a carryover Boston power play that bridged the second and third periods, but when the Caps were busted for having too many men on the ice early in the third period, Boston knotted the score again on David Krejci's power-play goal at 4:37.

Once again, the Caps had a quick answer.

From the corner of the Capitals' zone, Jonas Siegenthaler sent the puck along the wall to Oshie at the Washington line. Oshie bumped the puck to Nicklas Backstrom, hitting him in stride as he glided through neutral ice in a one-on-one situation with Boston blueliner Kevan Miller. From just above the left circle, Backstrom's low wrister eluded Halak's glove hand, leaving the B's netminder shaking his head in bewilderment.

Backstrom's goal came 69 seconds after Krecji's tying tally, giving Washington a lead it would not relinquish. From there, the Caps played textbook road hockey, getting pucks in deep and making the Bruins work to get out of their end. Ovechkin vacuumed any remaining drama out of the building when he drained a 165-footer into a vacant Boston net to account for the 4-2 final with 95 seconds left, and leaving the Bruins to mull over another setback at the hands of their tormentors from D.C.

"I thought we certainly gave ourselves a chance to win the game," says Boston coach Bruce Cassidy. Didn't happen again against this team. So, have to get over that hurdle, but yup. A lot of nights that would be good enough for points, if not two points, but not tonight."

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