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Capitals, Bruins meet for first time since playoffs

by Brian Hunter

BRUINS (14-3-2) at CAPITALS (8-11-1)


Last 10: Boston 7-2-1; Washington 6-4-0

Season series: First of three meetings between teams that met in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Washington advancing on Joel Ward's Game 7 overtime goal. The Capitals also won three of four against Boston during the regular season.

Big story: The Bruins went from having almost no offseason after winning the Cup in 2011 to having an extended break after their early playoff exit courtesy of the Capitals, followed by the lockout. Now they're back and looking as strong as ever, although they aren't even leading their division as play begins on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Bruins: This will be Boston's 20th game of the season. The Bruins have games in hand on every other NHL team, including three on the Canadiens, who moved into first place not only in the Northeast but the entire Eastern Conference after their come-from-behind 4-3 win Sunday night at TD Garden. Things turned physical in the second period after goals by Patrice Bergeron and Dougie Hamilton gave the Bruins a temporary 3-2 lead, and Zdeno Chara wound up taking 17 minutes in penalties in an altercation following a hit by Alexei Emelin on Tyler Seguin.

"Definitely, Zee's the best defenseman in the League and when he’s not on the ice, it's a huge advantage to the other team," forward Brad Marchand, who assisted on all three goals Sunday, told the Bruins' official website. "But at the same time, guys have to step up in that situation when someone stands up for a teammate the way that Zee did, we all have to step up and make sure that we back him up and we didn't do that tonight."

Capitals: There's still plenty of ground Washington has to make up in order to make the postseason for a sixth consecutive year, but the Capitals are showing signs again of resembling the team that upset the Bruins last spring and took the Rangers to seven games before bowing out. They've won three of four and six of nine after going into Winnipeg on Saturday and shutting out the Jets, 3-0, behind 35 saves from Braden Holtby and a goal and an assist from Mike Ribeiro.

"It felt really good first and foremost to get the win," forward Eric Fehr, an ex-Jet, told the Capitals' official website. "Our team needs to put a bunch of wins together, and obviously you've got to start with one."

Who's hot: Bergeron has two goals and five assists during a four-game points streak for the Bruins. Seguin has goals in consecutive games. … Holtby was pulled from a Feb. 27 start against the Flyers, but in the three starts sandwiched around that one he's stopped 89 of 90 shots. Ribeiro has eight multi-point games already this season.

Injury report: Washington defenseman Mike Green (groin) is day-to-day. Forwards Brooks Laich (groin) and Marcus Johansson (upper body) and defensemen Dmitry Orlov (upper body) and Jack Hillen (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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