recap bruins

Just under a week ago in Detroit, Caps’ goalie Charlie Lindgren lost his shutout bit with 1.1 seconds left in regulation, but he happily settled for a 2-1 victory. On Monday night in D.C. – in a must-win game against the Boston Bruins – Lindgren notched that elusive sixth shutout of the season to help Washington to a 2-0 victory over the B’s.

Washington played a stifling defensive game in front of Lindgren, who needed to make just 16 saves on the night; the fewest shots the Caps have permitted in a game this season. John Carlson’s center point drive at the 12-minute mark of the first stood up as the game-winning goal; he has six goals since March 1, and four of them have been game-winners.

In the waning seconds of regulation, Nic Dowd executed the rarely seen “swipe and snipe – empty net variety,” when he picked the pocket of Bruins’ captain Brad Marchand, whirled and fired it home to alleviate the possibility of a late Boston rush producing a tying tally.

“As good as we’ve seen on home ice, and when we needed it the most,” says Caps’ coach Spencer Carbery of Monday’s performance. “The game – especially through the first two periods – was so clean. All the things we were doing with the puck, without the puck, the way we defended. We were losing guys; we had a few guys go down, but everybody was just so connected with everything that we were doing in all three zones, so it was impressive, and we needed it – obviously – to stay in this fight. And now it comes down to the last day.”

Carlson’s goal came 21 seconds after Dylan Strome won a draw in the Caps’ end. Washington broke it out cleanly, gained the Boston zone and worked the puck around the perimeter. With a bit of a give-and-go with Strome high in the offensive zone, Carlson received the puck and let it fly; it beat Boston netminder Jeremy Swayman high to the stick side with Wilson and Protas providing the traffic in front.

Carlson’s goal was his 10th of the season; he has reached the double-digit level in eight of his 15 NHL seasons, and has finished with nine goals in three other campaigns. Strome hit the 40-assist plateau for the first time in his career with the primary helper.

Although they weren’t able to create any scoreboard separation until Dowd’s late goal, the Caps generated a number of good scoring chances and offensive zone shifts.

There was only one power play in Monday’s game, an opportunity for Washington in the third period that failed to bear fruit. The Caps displayed remarkable discipline, playing an entirely penalty-free game for the first time since Oct. 29, 2023 against San Jose, also at Capital One Arena.

Washington held Boston without a shot on goal for the first half of the opening period, and it limited the B’s to just four shots on net in each of the game’s first two periods.

“I think the word ‘struggle’ is a compliment to the way we played tonight,” says Bruins’ coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought Washington with their desperation, how well they defended, and how well they hung onto pucks in the offensive zone, was the way we wanted to play.”

Although he didn’t have to make many saves, Lindgren did need to make some big ones. He denied John Beecher from in tight just minutes after the Carlson goal in the first. Early in the second, Lindgren stopped a Jakub Lauko shot from the slot, and in the back half of the middle frame, he casually blockered aside a David Pastrnak shot in a 1-on-1 situation after the Caps turned it over high in their zone.

Swayman also had a strong night in net, and he kept his team close by denying Tom Wilson’s one-timer on a 2-on-1 rush and Strome’s tip attempt from the slot, both in the middle period.

After losing defenseman Nick Jensen to an upper body injury in Saturday’s win over the Lightning, the Caps lost another stalwart when Beck Malenstyn took a high hit from Boston’s Trent Frederic in the second period. Malenstyn did not return to Monday’s game, but did travel with the team to Philadelphia.

Washington owned a 45-21 advantage in shot attempts after two periods of play, with the entire 40 minutes played at 5-on-5. At that juncture of the contest, the Caps had one more blocked shot (nine) than Lindgren had saves (eight).

Boston put on more of a push in the third, and the Caps were down a forward by that point of the game as well. Lindgren made key stops on Charlie McAvoy and Pat Maroon late in the third to protect the slimmest of leads.

“Tonight was a great one, from start to finish,” says Lindgren. “I thought the boys in red were all over them tonight; it was probably one of our best games of the year, honestly, and you love to see it.

“Enjoy it tonight, and then you’ve got to be 100 percent ready to go [Tuesday].”

Monday’s win sets up another must-win for Washington on Tuesday in Philadelphia, in the regular season finale against the Flyers. If the Caps win Tuesday’s game, they will nail down the second wild card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

“We understood what was on the line,” says Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin. “I think you can see the effort. A huge goal by Carly, great job by Chucky, obviously. I think we played a solid 60 minutes. It’s over right now; we have to concentrate on next game. Next game is going to be a big one.”