WASHINGTON (AP) -Bruce Boudreau became the Washington Capitals' coach Wednesday when the team dropped the "interim" tag from his title.
The Capitals were 7-5-3 under Boudreau entering Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He was promoted from the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, on Thanksgiving Day, replacing the fired Glen Hanlon. At that point, the Capitals were last in the NHL with a 6-14-1 record, their worst 21-game start to a season since 1981-82.
Entering Wednesday, Washington's mark of 13-19-4 still left it last in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the 30-team league.
But the Capitals have been far more competitive in recent weeks under Boudreau, and are averaging three goals under him, an improvement from 2.2 under Hanlon.
Boudreau coached more than 1,000 games in the minor leagues and never was an assistant coach in the NHL before getting the chance to lead the Capitals on an interim basis. He played in parts of eight NHL seasons with Toronto and Chicago.