BOSTON -- Even without their newest defensive acquisition, the Boston Bruins had no trouble stifling the Washington Capitals' high-octane offense.
The Bruins outshot the Capitals 43-16 and earned their third straight win with a 3-0 victory, ending a four-game losing streak against Washington at TD Garden.
The Bruins acquired defenseman Andrej Meszaros from the Philadelphia Flyers before the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday. But they scratched Meszaros and went with their incumbent sextet on defense. That group allowed the fewest shots against by a Boston opponent since the Columbus Blue Jackets had 14 in the Bruins' 3-1 win Nov. 30, 2013.
"It was good. I really felt that our guys, our whole team, really played well without the puck," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought we skated well. I liked our pace this morning in the skate, so it was important for us to bring that tonight. When you take away their time and space the way we did tonight, it makes us a much better team, and I thought we did a great job of getting on them quickly and not giving them opportunities to make too many plays."
Tuukka Rask earned his League-leading sixth shutout. Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand (into an empty net) provided the offense for the Bruins (40-17-5), who've won six of their past nine games.
Neither team took a penalty, the second time that's happened in the NHL this season. The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild played a penalty-free game on Nov. 30.
The Capitals (29-25-10) are 0-2-1 in their past three games after a four-game winning streak. Their 16 shots were a season-low.
"You can't get much lower than that I guess," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. "That's pretty bad when you're only manufacturing eight shots in two periods. That's how many you should get each period, at least. So we are very frustrated with that. The killer instinct isn't there right now and it needs to be there because we are running out of time. A lot of us are pretty frustrated and there is no one else to be frustrated at but ourselves and each individual needs to play better and play harder, not enough of the guys are doing it."
Although the first period was scoreless, the Bruins outhit the Capitals 14-6. Boston was motivated by both their 4-2 loss to the Capitals last Saturday and the game plan the Philadelphia Flyers used to beat Washington 6-4 on Wednesday.
"That always bodes well for our team. That's kind of what we thrive on is that intensity and that emotion," Campbell said of his team's physical play. "And you know, last night's game was brought to light and how Philly really pressured their defense and was really physical. And that was something that we wanted to take into this game as well. And you know, time and time again we say our forecheck really drives the engine for our team and that's what we stressed before the game."
The Bruins showed more offensive urgency in the second; they outshot Washington 17-4 and scored twice.
Campbell opened the scoring on a tip-in from in front at 3:05. The Bruins had Rask off the ice for an extra attacker during a delayed penalty, and Campbell got a piece of Patrice Bergeron's one-timer from the top of the left circle.
Carl Soderberg's work down low resulted in the Bruins' second goal at 8:20. Kevan Miller fired a shot from the right point that goaltender Braden Holtby stopped, but Soderberg picked up the rebound, circled the net and found Eriksson with a backhand pass.
The Bruins outshot Washington 27-8 through two periods.
The Capitals had their best chance to get on the board in the first minute of the third period. Nicklas Backstrom found Alex Ovechkin with a back-door pass and the League's leading goal-scorer actually had put puck behind Rask. But Ovechkin's shot hit the outside of the net as he pumped his fist because he thought he had scored.
"It was 0-0 after the first, [Holtby] gave us a chance, we made a mistake on the first goal but we started the third period and you know what, if [Ovechkin] scores that one, it's a ballgame," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "When you approach this team, and we have talked about it a lot, you have to be willing to win a game 1-0 and it was 2-0 with two minutes to go, so you're still in the game. I know we didn't get enough shots but after the first period, most of their chances were perimeter. We were a little tired and we just needed that one spark and we didn't get it."
Marchand hit the empty net with 1:34 remaining after the Capitals pulled Holtby, who finished with 40 saves. Holtby was pulled in the second period at Philadelphia on Wednesday after allowing four goals. This time around, he didn't receive any offensive support in front of his bounce-back performance.
"My mindset doesn't change that much. You play a position that you're a big part of the team, and in order to do that, you have to have the mentality that you want to steal a game once in a while for your team," Holtby said. "Sooner or later, I have to do that. A goalie can't rely on offense, you have no control over that. You control your game and what you can contribute to the team.
Boston will play on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, the same night the Capitals host the Columbus Blue Jackets.