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Off to fast starts, Capitals welcome in Bruins

by Dan Rosen
BRUINS (2-1-0) at CAPITALS (4-1-0)


Season series:
This is the first of four meetings between the Bruins and Capitals this season, and the first of two this week. Washington won three of the four meetings last season, losing only on the last day of the regular season in a shootout, 4-3. The teams play again Thursday night in Boston.

Big Story -- Talk about a matchup of playoff disappointments. Washington was ousted in the first round last season while the Bruins made history in the wrong way, losing four straight to Philadelphia after going up 3-0 in the second round. Alex Ovechkin already has eight points this season on four goals and four assists. Tim Thomas has given up just one goal in his two starts (60 saves).

Team Scope:

Bruins -- The Bruins got their North American schedule off to a strong start with a 4-1 victory over the Devils on Saturday. They scored all four goals in the second period. Nathan Horton had an assist in the game and now has a team-high 5 points through three games. Tim Thomas made 31 saves and appears to be on his way to retaking his old job as the team's No. 1 goalie.

However, Bruins coach Claude Julien may be leaning toward putting Tuukka Rask in net for Tuesday's game. According to the Boston Globe, Julien wants to get Rask in a good rhythm, and he hasn't played since Prague. The Bruins play twice more this week, including home games Thursday against the Caps and Saturday against the New York Rangers.

"We have to consider two things: a goalie who's played really well, and another goalie who can't sit forever either," Julien said. "We've got lots of games. Three games in five nights (this) week. I'm sure we'll see both of them."

Capitals -- Washington has picked up right where it left off with a hot start to the season, but is doing it in a different way. The Capitals, who led the League in scoring last season, have scored more than three goals in regulation only once in five games, but they've won four straight, including two in overtime, because they've given up only seven goals.

The Capitals' penalty kill has been sensational at 21-for-21. Rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has started every game, has a .930 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average. He has been excellent as Semyon Varlamov continues to recover from a groin injury, but the Russian goalie should be ready to go soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday night.

"I'm hoping he's going to play soon," Boudreau said, "but Neuvy's playing pretty well."

Who's Hot -- Ovechkin has points in all five games this season and has eight in all. Capitals rookie defenseman John Carlson leads all NHL rookies with 5 assists and 6 points. Neuvirth is tied for the League lead with 4 wins. Boston center David Krejci has 4 assists in three games and wing Milan Lucic has goals in each of the last two games.

Injury Report -- Washington is hoping Carlson (soreness) and fellow blueliner Tom Poti (lower body) are able to go against the Bruins. Defenseman Mike Green (upper body injury) and forward Matt Bradley (lower body injury) are day-to-day. … The Bruins will be without Marco Sturm and Marc Savard for the foreseeable future.

Stat Pack -- After finishing 25th in the NHL in penalty kill last season (78.8 percent), the Capitals are now No. 1 in the League with a perfect percentage on 21 kills. However, they've also committed 29 penalties, including 23 minors, and that's among the most in the League. Defenseman Jeff Schultz has not been on for a goal against yet.

Puck Drop -- "The last few years, it seemed like we would give up one, two power-play goals a game. It felt like we always got behind the eight ball every time we had to kill one," Schultz told the Washington Post. "This year, every time we have success it's an energy boost for the team. We know we can kill off penalties now and we can use that momentum moving forward."

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