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Mantha Wins it for Caps in OT, 4-3

Caps claim their first win of the preseason in their road finale in Boston

by Mike Vogel @vogscaps /

Anthony Mantha's goal at 1:41 of overtime propelled the Caps to their first win of the preseason on Wednesday night in Boston, sealing a 4-3 victory for the visitors.

Taking some heat from a pair of Boston forecheckers, T.J. Oshie briefly retreated behind his own net before sending Mantha into Bruins territory with a 90-foot pass. Carrying down the right side with Justin Schultz as an option on a 2-on-1 rush, Mantha issued a quick fake before ripping a shot past Boston goalie Linus Ullmark to win it for Washington.

Wednesday's game was the Caps' preseason road finale, and the first road game in which they had most of their varsity roster on the ice.

"I thought we were a little bit slow in the first, and sometimes that happens when you're traveling in," says Caps coach Peter Laviolette. "I thought we shook it off pretty good; the second was a really good period for us. We were able to get it behind them, get in on the forecheck and generate some offense, so that was good.

"The third period was good; it was a little sleepy the first 10 minutes, but I liked the way we clicked on the power play in the end, and in overtime. It was a good job of getting the win on the road."

Video: Postgame | Laviolette

Boston put a fair amount of rubber on Caps goalie Vitek Vanecek early in the game, with most of the shots coming from distance. But Vanecek was unable to contain the rebound of a Brad Marchand shot from the high slot, enabling Craig Smith to take a whack at it from just above the paint. Vanecek kept that one out, too, but Charlie Coyle was just off the right post to cash in on the third opportunity for a 1-0 Boston lead at 7:28 of the first.

Seconds after the Coyle goal, Vanecek denied Marchand on a breakaway to keep the Caps within one.

The Capitals had a chance to pull even or better when Boston took a pair of penalties in short succession in the back half of the first, leading to a two-man advantage of 66 seconds in length. But Washington's varsity power play, fully assembled - aside from the injured Nicklas Backstrom - for the first time in the preseason was rusty on the execution front. It managed a couple of shots during that stretch, but none during the 5-on-3.

Washington had another opportunity with the extra-man early in the second, but again couldn't muster the equalizer. But the Caps struck twice in a short span just ahead of the midpoint of the middle frame, grabbing a 2-1 lead in the process.

First, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on a bit of a broken play in front. Kuznetsov and Nick Jensen made an exchange at the left point, and Jensen carried down the wall and below the goal line before feeding Garnet Hathaway, who was just off the left post. Hathaway tried to hit Alex Ovechkin in the slot, but the puck instead caromed to Kuznetsov, who had an easy dunk from the weak side to make it a 1-1 game at 6:09.

Less than a minute later, the Caps took the lead. At the Washington line, Jensen poked the puck away from Taylor Hall, and it went right to Kuznetsov, who quickly sprung Tom Wilson on a breakaway. Wilson did the rest, sliding a backhander through Ullmark at 7:05.

Video: WSH@BOS: Wilson puts Capitals ahead off breakaway

In the back half of the frame, Boston drew even just 10 seconds after winning a draw in its own end. Coyle won the draw and later sent Smith down the right side and into Washington ice. Vanecek stopped Smith's wrist shot from the right circle, but the puck fell loose in front of him, and Hall raced in to bury it at 13:17.

Once again, Vanecek quickly atoned for allowing a rebound goal. This time he flashed the glove to deny David Pastrnak's short side bid on a 2-on-1 rush.

In the third, the undisciplined Bruins again gave Washington some extra-man opportunities. Washington started the third on a power play and got another one seconds after the carryover man advantage but couldn't manage to get the go-ahead goal.

On a single sequence after the midpoint of the third, Boston blueliner Charlie McAvoy incurred an interference minor and a cross-checking minor to give Washington a four-minute power play, its sixth and seventh of the evening. The Caps cashed in on the front half when Oshie tipped an Alex Ovechkin shot past Ullmark at 13:29.

Once again, Boston drew even three minutes later when Pastrnak cruised in and took a carom off the back wall and tucked a shot through Vanecek at 16:31.

Washington had to kill off a late Bruins power play after the Pastrnak goal, but the Caps weathered the late Boston push and won it in overtime. Vanecek finished the night with 33 saves on 36 shots.

Video: Condensed Game: Capitals @ Bruins

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