Boston, MA – The Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime in front of 17,850 at TD Garden. Forward Anthony Mantha beat Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark (26 saves) through the legs to close out the Bruins exhibition schedule. Evgeni Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist while goaltender Vitek Vanecek turned back 33 Bruins shots to win on Wednesday night.
Each team started what should be their opening night line-ups pending a week here or there. In Boston’s case, netminder Jeremy Swayman didn’t dress. For one member of the Bruins, it was his first game of the preseason after having off-season knee surgery. It didn’t take long for Coyle to get in on the action.
Charlie Coyle skated back into the groove of things early in the first period. The 10-year veteran made his first start of the preseason after keeping a low profile during training camp. The forward from East Weymouth, Ma, who had Jack Studnicka holding his spot warm up until this game, centered the second line of Taylor Hall and Craig Smith. That combination tonight was the big story for the Bruins, notching two goals and two assists between the trio.
Coyle banged in a rebound of a Smith shot at 7:28 of the opening period. Brad Marchand fired a puck on goal that Vanecek stopped, but the rebound fell to Smith, who whacked at it before Coyle knocked it for the 1-0 lead.
“They (the Bruins second line) attacked well,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy of the Coyle line. “Smitty (Craig Smith) is good for playing off the shot, like the first goal they scored.”
Boston killed off a five-on-three during the final five minutes of the first period. Defenseman Mike Reilly was called for Cross-Checking at 14:24, and Nick Foligno followed up with a High-Sticking call at 15:19. The Capitals only managed one shot on Ullmark during the two-man advantage.
Washington opened up the second period with a power-play after David Pastrnak was sent off for Tripping just twenty-nine seconds into the period. The Bruins killed off the man advantage, but the Caps did gain momentum in the early going.
A brief rough patch by the Bruins’ defense saw the Capitals jump ahead. First, Kuznetsov easily bangs in a rebound attempt in front of Ullmark at 6:09. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk had a rebound bounce through his legs directly to a creeping Kuznetsov, who easily roofed the puck past Ullmark.
Less than a minute later, Tom Wilson beats Brandon Carlo from the blueline to walk in on Ullmark. Wilson slid the puck through Ullmark’s five-hole for the 2-1 lead.
Boston tied it at 13:17 when Hall crashed the net to tap in a loose puck after Vanecek couldn’t secure Smith’s shot. Smith fired a shot on goal from the top of the right circle. Vanecek thought he tied up the puck, but a hustling Hall beat defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the puck to even the score at 2-2.
Charlie McAvoy was penalized for two different penalties at 12:31. The Bruins defender was initially called for Cross-Checking and then drew an Interference call while on the delayed penalty.
With McAvoy in the penalty box for four minutes, the Capitals pulled ahead when T.J. Oshie redirected an Alex Ovechkin shot from the blueline past Ullmark blocker-side at 13:49 of the third period.
David Pastrnak pulled that one back at 16:31 when he slid the puck through Vanecek’s legs below the right circle. Erik Haula dumped the puck into the Capitals zone, and Pastrnak beat Connor McMichael to the carom off the end board. Pastrnak faked a slapshot before he deftly slid the puck five-hole on Vanecek.
With 1:41 remaining in overtime and the Capitals on a two-on-one opportunity, Mantha deked a pass attempt on McAvoy before sliding the puck past Ullmark for the OT winner.
“Well, he (Linus Ullmark) had lots of action, which is good. He needs it,” said Cassidy of his goalie’s performance. “He needs to get playing time. He has to tighten up. Those pucks are just finding their way through for a big man. That will be a challenge.”
“It was just sloppy,” added Cassidy of the OT winner. “You can’t put that one on the goalie. There are goal scorers out there.”
“I think he was better. He needs more reps,” said the coach.
“I thought we were a little bit slow in the first, and sometimes that happens when you’re traveling in,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette. “I thought we shook it off pretty good. The second was a really good period for us. We were able to get it behind them (the Bruins). Get in the forecheck and generate some offense. So that was good. The third period was good. It was a little sleepy in the first ten minutes, but I liked the way we pushed on the power play at the end.”
“It was a good job getting a win on the road,” said Laviolette.
The Bruins are done with preseason games until they take on the Dallas Stars at TD Garden to kick off the season on Saturday, October 16. The Capitals will host the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night in their last exhibition tune-up before squaring off with the New York Rangers on Wednesday, October 13, at Capital One Arena.