Boston has won five games in a row and is hoping to end a long string of frustration against the Washington Capitals in a home game Thursday night.
Washington (26-12-4) has won two in a row and is coming off a 5-3 victory over the slumping Philadelphia Flyers, which was their eighth straight loss. Washington beat Detroit on Sunday, which ended a three-game skid for the defending champions.
The Capitals are 10-0-3 in their past 13 games against Boston, including a 7-0 home win to open this season.
Jakub Vrana, who had two goals and one assist in the victory, is having a breakout season. The speedy winger ranks second on the team with 14 goals (he finished with 13 in 73 games last season). Plus he has registered 24 points — three away from his career best of 27, set last season.
He’s likely going to go far past that this season. Vrana’s speed has helped him on numerous occasions, including in Tuesday’s game when he poked a puck away from Claude Giroux near the Washington blue line and broke in alone on goalie Mike McKenna for a score.
“You can’t always go so fast,” Vrana said on NHL.com. “You have to read the situation. Obviously, I try to use as much as I can. When I see the chance to skate, I do it. I think I’m a good skater, and I just try to use it as much as I can.”
If Vrana becomes a full-blown goal scorer, that adds to an already powerful Washington offense, which is getting great seasons from Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and others. Veteran T.J. Oshie even scored twice in the win over the Flyers to reach the 200-goal milestone.
The Capitals will hope to get back Nicklas Backstrom, who was held out due to being under the weather. The center is second on the team with 44 points.
But the Capitals will be facing a hot Boston team that improved to 25-14-4 after a 4-0 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. Goalie Tuukka Rask notched his first shutout this season and the 42nd of his 12-year career.
He has now won 250 games with Boston, needing three more victories to become first in team history for wins.
“It’s 250 wins … 250 more to go, I guess,” Rask said after the game with a grin. “No … been lucky enough to be part of good teams, and that’s pretty much what it comes down to, I think.”
Still, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said after that game that he is thinking hard about letting Jaroslav Halak start in goal. Halak has tormented Washington at times in the past, and this would be his first start versus the Capitals with the Bruins.
Boston got some luck with strange bounces on most of the goals in the Minnesota game, and the Bruins want some more of that against Washington to help end the skid against the Caps.
–Field Level Media