GAME: Washington Capitals (23-45-9-2) at Boston Bruins (40-18-14-7).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Boston Bruins have a chance to determine their own fate.
Boston tries to take a step closer to the Northeast Division title when it
hosts the Washington Capitals in the easiest of its final three games of the
The Bruins have moved past Toronto and Ottawa into sole possession of the
Northeast lead. With wins in all the remaining games - including a
home-and-home series with Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey during the
weekend - Boston would clinch the Northeast and be guaranteed home-ice in the
opening round of the playoffs.
"We're trying to put ourselves in the best position for the playoffs,"
Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. "Getting points is critical. I think we've
put ourselves in position to control our own destiny, and we're starting to do
The Bruins were 9-3-1 in March, and have gained points in 25 of their last
29 games - including 15 of 16 on the road.
Sergei Samsonov scored the go-ahead goal in the second period Tuesday, and
Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist to lead Boston to a 3-2 victory at
"All year we've been playing a simple game," Thornton said. "When we get
on the road, we don't play too fancy. We just chip the puck in, go and
forecheck hard and keep the puck out of our end. There's really no secret, just
the work ethic and smart plays."
Andrew Raycroft and Felix Potvin are both making strong cases to be Boston's
starting goalie in the postseason.
Raycroft, a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy as the league's top
rookie, has won six of his last seven starts. Tuesday's victory improved Potvin
to 4-1-1 in his last six decisions.
Washington is headed for its worst season since 1977-78, when it finished
17-49-14 for 48 points.
Matt Yeats stopped 27 shots for his first NHL victory and Trent Whitfield
had two goals and an assist Tuesday to help the Capitals end a three-game
losing streak with a 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh.
Yeats was called up to Washington on March 19, and has played well in each
of his four appearances.
"Maybe it will after the season is over, but it hasn't sunk in yet," Yeats
said. "Last night, I watched the Detroit game and I was just thinking, 'I am
playing in the same league.' It doesn't seem real."
Center Jeff Halpern, usually a defensive player, has taken on more of an
offensive role since the Capitals traded away most of their high-priced
players. Halpern has five goals and nine assists in his last 13 games.
STANDINGS: Capitals - 57 points, 5th place, 47 PB, Southeast Division.
Bruins - 101 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Halpern, 16 goals, 25 assists and 41 points; Darcy
Verot, 135 PIM. Bruins - Glen Murray, 30 goals; Thornton, 49 assists and 72
points; Doug Doull, 127 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 30): Capitals - Power play: 19.3 percent (63
for 327), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (312 for 383), 25th. Bruins
- Power play: 16.0 percent (45 for 282), 17th. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent
(269 for 320), 16th.
GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (19-34-8, 2 SO, 2.89 GAA); Yeats (1-2-0,
2.71). Bruins - Raycroft (28-17-8, 3, 2.00); Potvin (12-8-6, 4, 2.50).
SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; Bruins, 3-1. At Washington, Hal Gill and Ted Donato
scored first-period goals and Potvin made 28 saves for Boston.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 10-25-3-1 on the road; Bruins - 18-11-8-2 at