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Bruins extend lead in East

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
A lucky bounce helped the Boston Bruins extend their lead in the Eastern Conference to 11 points.

David Krejci's power-play goal with 3:05 remaining in overtime lifted the conference-leading Bruins to a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals at TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday night. Krejci threw the puck toward the net, and it went off the leg of Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and past goaltender Jose Theodore to boost the Bruins' lead over second-place Washington.

''It seems like that happens once a game,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''It seems like one goal goes off a skate.''

Boston got the power-play opportunity just 48 seconds into the overtime when Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for hooking.

Tim Thomas put forth another tremendous effort for the Bruins in a 34-save performance. With the victory, the All-Star goalie improved to 12-2-1 over his last 15 games. The Bruins have lost only four of their last 26 games in regulation -- two of them to the Capitals.   

"Washington's an incredibly talented club," Thomas said. "They've got a lot of skill. It wasn't exactly the same (as the All-Star Game), but I was just trying to hang in there and give us a chance."

The Capitals received a huge scare in the second period, when Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin was involved in a crash into the boards. Ovechkin, who leads the League with 31 goals, hit the boards behind the Bruins goal with his head and right shoulder, then remained motionless on the ice for a few moments.

He sat on the bench just a few minutes before walking off through the tunnel and slamming his gloves and helmet to the ground. He managed, however, to return for the start of the third period. He had an assist and 9 shots on goal. Team spokesman Paul Rovnak said Ovechkin had a "stinger" that felt better after about 15 minutes.

''He's a pretty tough kid,'' said Boudreau, who was inducted into the American Hockey League's Hall of Fame on Monday.

Washington controlled the tempo for much of the first period and needed just 2:08 to get on the scoreboard. Mike Green gave the Caps a 1-0 lead when he took a pass from Alexander Semin and beat Thomas with a screened slap shot from the top of the slot for his 13th goal of the season.

Shawn Thornton tied it for the Bruins at 9:26 on an unassisted tally -- the first even-strength goal allowed by Washington in 208 minutes -- but Michael Nylander restored the Caps' lead with 21 seconds left in the period.

Marc Savard scored the final goal of regulation, which came via the power play at 14:12 of the second period. With Nylander in the box for hooking, Savard took a pass from Patrice Bergeron and beat Theodore from the right circle to make it 2-2.

Bergeron returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing the past 15 games due to a concussion.

''It was nice to see him back,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said, ''not only for us, but for his teammates.''

 
 
Thomas preserved the tie in overtime for the Bruins when he stopped Ovechkin and Backstrom on back-to-back shots. The second save was awfully similar to the gorgeous pad save he made on Jarome Iginla in overtime during Sunday's All-Star Game in Montreal.

"Ovechkin's so dangerous, and he gets that shot off on a funny angle," Thomas said. "He kind of handcuffed me on it, so I put a juicy rebound right in the slot. When I saw Backstrom, I didn't know who it was. I was just thinking that I gave up the juicy rebound and it's my responsibility to get over there for the rebound."

Despite the fact that they've won only three of their last eight games, the Capitals remain atop the Southeast Division, eight points ahead of second-place Carolina. While home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs would be nice, Boudreau isn't too concerned about landing the No. 1 seed.

"Did the No. 1 seed win last year? How about the year before? 'Who's in the Super Bowl? It's like a 2 and a 6. It's not like the NCAAs, when a No. 16 against a 1 and you don't have much of a chance." -- Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
''Did the No. 1 seed win last year? How about the year before?'' the coach said. ''Who's in the Super Bowl? It's like a 2 and a 6. It's not like the NCAAs, when a No. 16 against a 1 and you don't have much of a chance.''

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.


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