Saturday night's game between the Capitals and the Bruins in Boston pitted a pair of teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack, both of which were seeking a second straight win. The Caps were aiming to piece together consecutive victories for the first time since the first two games of the season, and the Bruins were seeking to do so for the first time in the 2017-18 campaign.
For the second straight game, Washington scored first and it never trailed. The Caps got a couple of Tom Wilson goals and an Alex Ovechkin tally - all at even strength - and they got some stellar netminding from Braden Holtby and a couple of clutch penalty kills in the third period to seal a 3-2 victory.
Wilson's two-goal game is his first in the regular season during his NHL career; he did have a two-goal game in Game 4 of the Caps' first-round playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs last spring. His goals on Saturday night were his first two of the season, but his line - with Lars Eller and Chandler Stephenson - has been hot, putting up a total of five goals and a dozen points in four games since they were put together as a unit.
"I think the whole line's been generating chances," says Wilson. "In this league, it's tough to score goals, so as long as you're generating chances, you get a night where you get a couple bounces and they go in. The goalies are good, so you've got to stay the course and Lars, Stevie and I just kind of found a new kind of chemistry that's been clicking."
Video: Wilson, Holtby power Capitals past Bruins, 3-2
Sawbuck Streak - Washington's 3-2 win over the Bruins in Boston on Saturday night was the Caps 10th straight triumph over the B's, dating back to a 4-2 loss in the District on March 29, 2014. Eight of the 10 victories in the streak have been achieved in regulation, and the Caps have outscored Boston by a combined 33-14 during the life of the streak.
Even with the 10-game winning run, the Caps are still in arrears to the Bruins since they entered the NHL in 1974-75. Washington is now 58-68-21-8 all-time against Boston.
Video: Postgame Locker Room | November 4
Troika Tally - Ovechkin's goal came seconds after he was stopped on a breakaway by Boston netminder Tuukka Rask. Many of the Caps' recent goals have come off the rush, but Ovechkin's goal was manufactured off a sustained shift in the offensive zone, something that's been a bit difficult for the Caps to come by this season.
Ovechkin and linemates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Devante Smith-Pelly did great work along the walls and below to goal line to gain possession of the puck, then Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov executed a precision exchange of passes before the former set up an Ovechkin one-timer from the left dot. The Caps' captain has scored a raft of goals from that office location, but nearly all of them have come on the power play.
"I'm guessing the criticism I'm going to hear from goalie coach is I was too deep probably," says Rask, "but I picked it up late. He can shoot it so quickly and he did twice. The second time in the second period, he kind of whips his blade at the last second so you can't really get a read on it, and the second one just happened to hit my stick there. But you've got to respect him. He's a great goal scorer. If he gets those opportunities - I think he had probably three single ones today - most likely he's going to get one in, and that was the case today."
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | November 4
Up Early - After going seven straight games without scoring the game's first goal, the Caps have now done so in the first half of the first period in each of their last two games.
Falling behind and chasing games is difficult in the NHL, and it proved to be problematic for the Capitals for much of the month of October. Being able to forge an early lead and then endeavoring to build upon it and protect it is much more conducive to picking up points and moving up in the standings.
"We needed that," says Eller. "We don't want to be chasing the standings the whole season. We've got a good stretch now where I think we can put some wins together, and we had a good start here coming home after the western [Canada] trip. I'm optimistic."
Video: Caps 365 | November 4
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears suffered a 4-1 home ice loss to the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night, but worse yet, the Bears also lost rookie defenseman Connor Hobbs for the next 6-8 weeks because of a fractured left wrist.
The Marlies scored twice in the first and twice in the third, while the lone Hershey goal came in the final minute of the first frame, halving the Toronto lead to 2-1 at that point. Garrett Mitchell scored his second goal of the season for the Bears, getting help from Jeremy Langlois and Zach Sill.
Bears goalie Adam Carlson stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced in a losing effort, falling to 2-2-0 on the season.
Hershey is back in action on Sunday afternoon when it takes to the road to face the Baby Pens in Wilkes-Barre Scranton.
By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Capitals with 29:18 in ice time, doing so for the 12th time in 14 games this season. Carlson is now averaging 27:12 in ice time per night this season, the highest figure of any player in the league … Carlson was on the ice for 4:59 of Boston's total of 7:07 in power play time in Saturday's game … Wilson led the Caps with five shots on net and six shot attempts … Wilson, Brooks Orpik and Liam O'Brien paced the Caps with three hits each … Orpik led the Caps with three blocked shots … Eller won eight of 11 face-offs (73%) on the night.