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Ovechkin, Holtby, Capitals hand Bruins first road loss

by Katie Brown /

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals made a vow to avoid any losing streaks this season.

So far, so good.

Alex Ovechkin scored, and Braden Holtby made 28 saves to help the Capitals defeat the Boston Bruins 4-1 at Verizon Center on Thursday.

The Capitals (9-3-0) have won every game that followed a loss. Defenseman Karl Alzner said they made a pact with each other at the beginning of the season to not lose two games in a row. Once that happens, he said, the losses can pile up.

"I think you can get yourselves into a tailspin if you don't focus on having a good bounce-back," Alzner said. "If you lose two, next thing you know, it's three and you lose ground fast. It's always a goal of ours; we haven't done a good job of it in the past, but so far we're doing OK."

Alzner, Brooks Laich and John Carlson scored for the Capitals.

Tuukka Rask made 27 saves and forward Jimmy Hayes scored for the Bruins (6-5-1), who lost for the first time in six road games this season.

The goal was Hayes' fourth of the season and the first scored by Boston against Washington since March 29, 2014. It broke Holtby's shutout streak of 199:33 against the Bruins, who were shut out in their three-game series with the Capitals last season. He is 8-2-0 against Boston during his NHL career.

Holtby allowed five goals in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Washington coach Barry Trotz attributed that to sitting Holtby in the second game of a back-to-back and then having several days off between games.

"After a tough one in New York, we knew he was going to bounce back," Laich said. "It wasn't even talked about, it wasn't even questioned. We just know the type of competitor Braden is. We knew he was going to bounce back. He's the backbone of our team; he was last year and he's a big part of it this year."

Hayes scored a power-play goal at 12:47 of the first period to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Brett Connolly's shot bounced off the stick of Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik and deflected off Hayes' right shoulder into the net for his fourth of the season.

"The first 10 minutes were good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought once we scored that goal, that's when I thought we took our foot off the gas and let them get themselves back into the game. Second period was a matter of some real bad penalties that kind of hurts your team and gives them some momentum. Third period we had to claw our way back into it.

"They're a good defensive team, and we didn't get enough shots on net, and we didn't get enough players in that area as well to be able to score some goals."

Ovechkin tied the game 1-1 at 17:27 of the first period. Evgeny Kuznetsov took the initial shot and Ovechkin swatted the puck past Rask from midair on a diving play for his seventh goal of the season. It was the 482nd of Ovechkin's NHL career, one away from tying Sergei Fedorov's record for most by a Russian-born player in the League.

"Ovi scores those highlight-reel goals all the time," Trotz said. "We talk about this is a team [Boston] that has a good goaltender. They're a physical [defensive] core and you've got to go to those hard areas to score goals against them. When one of your top scorers is known for his 1-on-1 and great shot, goes to the hard areas and gets one of those grinder, blue-paint goals, it's great."

Carlson's assist on Ovechkin's goal was his 200th NHL point.

Laich gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 4:10 of the second period. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov took a hard shot from the point and the puck deflected off Laich's right skate in front of the crease for his first goal of the season.

"I still consider myself a two-way player and put a lot of pressure on myself to produce, and it's frustrating when pucks don't go in," Laich said. "It really is.

"You try and walk that line where you keep it on the road and you don't jerk the vehicle one way or the other. You stick to the process and sometimes you get tested."

Carlson scored 7:21 into the second period on a 5-on-3, giving Washington a 3-1 lead and ending a four-game power-play drought. Carlson moved into Ovechkin's spot in the circle, and Ovechkin moved into the high slot. Nicklas Backstrom sent a pass across the crease to Carlson, who scored his third goal of the season.

"We've had the same guys on there," Carlson said of the power play. "The success has been there. It's not for a lack of want. I think we work hard at it all the time. When you've got some of the premier players in the League, teams are going to really scout and not take any chances.

"We wanted to get a little jump back on the power play and get a little mojo and see pucks go in and that was big. That was big for the game, and that was big for us moving forward."

Alzner scored into an empty net with 1:50 left to give Washington a 4-1 lead.

"It's one game," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "It's not the end of the world. It's unfortunate that we lost, but we're not going to win 82 games this year, and we just need to make sure we're better next game."

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