BOSTON (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom and Garnet Hathaway each scored a goal and the Washington Capitals beat NHL-best Boston 2-1 on Saturday, sending the Bruins to just their second regulation loss at home this season.
The Bruins are 22-2-3 at home. Their other regulation loss at TD Garden came on Jan. 12, a 3-0 setback against Seattle.
Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves for the Capitals, who have won three of their last four games.
“It’s definitely ‘go-time’ for us. You could see that in our play,” Kuemper said. “It would have been disappointing to come into this building and not put in the effort we did. … We played unbelievable. That’s probably the hardest building to win in this year.”
Nick Foligno scored for Boston and backup goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped 21 shots.
“We had our chances,” Foligno said of Boston’s late surge. “We were just too cute.”
Washington star Alex Ovechkin was held without a point for a season-high matching third straight game, only the second time this season that’s happened.
With both teams coming off long layoffs between games (Washington 11 days and Boston 10) the Capitals had the better scoring chances in a sloppy first period that saw a handful of breakdowns, mostly by the Bruins, in their own defensive zone.
“I really liked the start,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “Coming off the break and not knowing what you’re going to get, I thought we played a smart period. I thought we defended well.”
Playing just his 11th game after recovering from offseason hip surgery, the 35-year-old Backstrom made it 1-0 when he collected a loose puck that Swayman couldn’t cover and flipped it into the net during a 5-on-3 power-play advantage 6:28 into the game.
Swayman stopped a couple of close, high-percentage scoring chances over the next few minutes before Kuemper flashed his right pad to make a stop on David Krejci’s wrister on a break-in late in the period.
“The first period was our best,” Backstrom said. “We talked about it before (the game). We have to be good against these guys defensively. They’re so powerful, they have a lot of good players, skilled players.”
Midway into the second period, Kuemper robbed Brad Marchand’s close bid. Hathaway then came down the slot after collecting an errant clearing attempt at the blue line and beat Swayman with a wrister over the left shoulder before he was knocked to the ice by defenseman Connor Clifton. Hathaway pointed to the ceiling while he was laying on his back after the goal.
Foligno retrieved a loose puck at the side of the net, flipping it past Kuemper, slicing Boston’s deficit in half late in the second.
“I didn’t think we had a bad game,” Marchand said. “We missed a couple of opportunities that if we capitalize it’s a different game.”
Laviolette coached his 1,402nd game, moving past Ron Wilson for the 11th most in NHL history. The 58-year-old Laviolette, who grew up about 30 minutes outside Boston in Franklin, Mass., has the fifth most among active coaches and guided Carolina to the Stanley Cup in 2006.
NOTES: Ovechkin was also held without a point by Boston when the teams met in early October. …. The Bruins wore their Winter Classic jerseys that they had on when they beat the Penguins in Fenway Park on Jan. 2. … Celtics guard Payton Pritchard watched from a luxury box and got a loud cheer when shown on the videoboard. … Former NHL defenseman Zdeno Chara, who played for both teams, visited a few Capitals after the game.
Capitals: Host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday afternoon, their first of three consecutive home games.
Bruins: At the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
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