WASHINGTON (AP) — Braden Holtby made 32 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, Nicklas Backstrom became Washington’s career assists leader, and the Capitals cooled the surging Boston Bruins with a 2-0 victory Sunday night.
Holtby rebounded from being pulled during the second period of Friday night’s loss after allowing four goals on 22 shots.
Washington, which had lost three of four on its five-game homestand, moved two points ahead of Boston for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Backstrom assisted on goals by John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, moving past Michal Pivonka and Alex Ovechkin (418 each) on the Capitals’s assists list with 420.
The Bruins had won five straight, and were 7-0-1 in their last eight. Tuukka Rask, playing his second game in as many nights, stopped 36 shots.
Washington scored on its only power play opportunity, then killed off all four Boston chances.
After mustering just 20 shots in their loss to Dallas on Friday night, the Capitals outshot the Bruins 10-1 over the first 4:15 — but nothing got past Rask.
Then at 12:27, Brad Marchand went off for roughing and it took Washington just 16 seconds to convert. Backstrom fed Carlson, and Carlson one-timed a shot past Rask from center-point for his 11th of the season.
Backstrom leads the league with 53 assists, including seven in his last seven games.
Boston stepped up the pressure on Holtby in the second, but he was equal to it, stopping 14 shots, including a point-blank slapper from Torey Krug.
Two fortuitous deflections aided Washington’s second goal. Tom Wilson’s shot was blocked right to Schmidt, whose blast from the point deflected in off Boston’s Gregory Campbell. It was Schmidt’s first goal of the season.
NOTES: It was the sixth time this season Rask has started both games of a back-to-back. He’s 5-0-1 in first games, but 0-4-2 in second games. … Boston had scored first in 11 straight contests. … Pivonka played for Washington from 1986-99. … With backup G Justin Peters (lower body injury) day-to-day, the Capitals recalled G Philipp Grubauer from Hershey of the AHL, along with RW Chris Conner. C Andre Burakovsky was re-assigned to Hershey. … Washington was without C Michael Latta and RW Jay Beagle — both upper body — and D Brooks Orpik (lower body).
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