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Capitals expecting defensive struggle vs. Bruins

by Jon Lane

CAPITALS (28-23-9) at BRUINS (37-16-5)


Last 10: Washington 6-3-1; Boston 7-1-2

Season series: The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins play the first of three games, all in March. The teams last played on April 27 in the 2013 season finale, a game the Capitals won 3-2 in overtime.

Big story: The Capitals trail the Detroit Red Wings by three points for the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot with 22 games left. Coach Adam Oates is aware of the challenge provided by the Bruins. The Atlantic Division leaders are in comfortable playoff position and have allowed a League-low 127 non-shootout goals.

"We haven't seen them in a long time, but we know the Bruins," Oates said Friday. "They're still a defensive first team. They protect their goalie. They're a physical team, we know that. They're stingy, they don't give you much. We expect a 1-0, 2-1 game, and that's kind of the attitude you're supposed to have every night. I'm looking forward to it because it's a great measuring stick for us."

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington gave up a pair of two-goal leads Thursday against the Florida Panthers, but Oates was happy with the 5-4 victory that gave his team its first three-game winning streak since December. The Capitals can match their best run of the season (Nov. 1-7) with a win Saturday in Boston.

"It's a little different because of the [Olympic] break," Oates said. "We'd feel a little bit differently if it was three consecutive. But honestly it's always the same thing. You want wins because it makes guys feel good. We want to play good hockey and that's still the most important thing. As teams start to refine their game in the last month you're going to have to play good to win."

Bruins: This begins a stretch of 17 games in 31 days in March for the Bruins, including six pairs of back-to-back games.

"The good news is that we've been through it before, so it's nothing new for us, but we just have to approach it the right way and make sure we get our rest in the right times, and really dig deep in those game situations," goalie Tuukka Rask said. "It's going to be tough, but as I said, we've been through it before and we have the experience and leadership here to get through it and finish it off on the right note."

Who's hot: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has 15 points in his past 10 games and leads the League with 41 goals. Right wing Troy Brouwer has five points in his past three games … Bruins forward David Krejci has points in four straight games (two goals, three assists). Forward Jarome Iginla has eight points in his past five.

Injury report: Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski (sprained left ankle) returned to Washington to be evaluated by team doctors after aggravating the injury in the game Thursday and won't play Saturday. Left wing Aaron Volpatti (upper body) is on injured reserve … Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (leg) sustained a setback and is out Saturday. "It becomes day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month," coach Claude Julien said Friday. "I'm not sure anymore." Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (torn right ACL/MCL) is on IR.


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