Boston Bruins players could feel themselves making progress in recent games against the Washington Capitals, even as the losses piled up.
All it took was finishing one play, a commitment to team defense and a handful of timely saves by Tuukka Rask for the Bruins on Sunday to end their 14-game skid against the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 1-0 victory.
Boston beat Washington for the first time since March 29, 2014, and their 14 straight wins against Arizona are now the longest active streak against one opponent in the NHL.
“We’ve had some tight games,” said Rask, who made 24 saves for just his second career victory in 19 appearances against Washington. “It’s one of those things that just happens in sports where you get into these streaks of either winning or losing and at some point they’re going to snap.”
Thanks to David Krejci’s goal, the Bruins snapped their three-game skid and handed the Capitals their eighth loss in nine games.
Outscored 45-21 during their 14-game run of futility, the Bruins dominated the Capitals in almost all facets of the game and would have blown them out if not for the play of goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 37 saves.
Holtby was helpless to stop Krejci’s shot on a one-timer after a cross-ice pass from Torey Krug midway through the second period.
Rask picked up his 253rd career victory to take over first place on the Bruins’ all-time list.
“He was in control all night,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We were pretty clean in front of him there till the end, and when we weren’t, he was there for us. Happy for him, I think the guys in the room are as well and hopefully he keeps building on it.”
Brandon Carlo did not believe there was necessarily a theme or specific problem that led to such a lopsided stretch against Washington and thought his team was getting closer to a breakthrough.
Afterward, captain Zdeno Chara said the Bruins “finally” got the win against Washington.
In many ways, the Capitals only had themselves to blame.
Fed up by mental mistakes, Capitals coach Todd Reirden used ice time as a weapon to punish players. He benched Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitrij Jaskin for much of the first period after each took a penalty, then Andre Burakovsky for the first few minutes of the second for a defensive-zone turnover.
Washington lead the league with 191 minor penalties.
“I think as you get past the All-Star break and you start making a push toward the playoffs, that’s an area we have to get better in, as we’ve taken far too many minor penalties with our sticks,” Reirden said. “We have to be more disciplined if we’re going to have success moving forward from here and I thought the last 30 games is a good time to implement that.”
Also on Sunday, it was:
‧ Canadiens 4, Oilers 3, OT
‧ Flames 4, Hurricanes 3
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