The start of a four-game road trip for the Washington Capitals got off on the right foot as they defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime, thanks to Matt Niskanen, who scored the game-winning goal.
The win gives Washington 100 points on the season, the first team to reach the feat. The Caps record is now 48-13-4 with 17 games remaining in the regular season. They are also the only team in the NHL this season to not lose consecutive games in regulation (they lost to the New York Rangers Friday night.)
Niskanen was able to score the game-winner 2:36 into the extra period on a slap shot that got past Boston goalie Tukka Rask. This is the third time this week that Niskanen has been involved in the game-winning goal. On Tuesday he assisted on the game-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then a night later, he scored the game-winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He now has five goals on the campaign. He was on the ice for 26 minutes and 48 seconds.
Head coach Barry Trotz said after the game that Niskanen “doesn’t get the credit for what he’s done.”
Backup net minder Philipp Grubauer filled in quite nicely for starter Braden Holtby by stopping 33 shots, including several during a pivotal point in the second period when Washington killed off a 5-on-3 power play which lasted one minute and 50 seconds. What led to the 5-on-3 was Alex Ovechkin being called for a five-minute major penalty and Dmitry Orlov was called for interference. Grubauer and the Caps defense stepped up and killed the penalties.
Washington once again had to come from behind after giving up the first goal, this time to Patrice Bergeron at the 7:11 mark of the first period. Karl Alzner netted his fourth goal of the season at the 13:08 mark of the second period, knotting the game at 1-1. The game-tying goal was assisted by Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom.
The Caps will travel out west on Sunday for three games to complete the four-game road streak. Washington will visit the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday the 12th.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference is all but wrapped up for the Caps, who will now focus on making history as well as getting the proper rest ahead of the grueling playoffs. One thing this team cannot afford to do is get lackadaisical heading into the postseason. Winning the regular season is nice and all, but it means nothing if you can’t win the Stanley Cup.