By Ben Sullivan
T.J. Oshie scored twice and John Carlson got the go-ahead goal to extend the Washington Capitals’ domination of the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 win in a showdown between the NHL’s two best teams.
The Capitals have won 16 of their past 17 games against the Bruins. Boston has lost four in a row with three of those defeats coming in regulation.
Carlson’s blast past Jaroslav Halak in the third period fired up a crowd quieted by Sean Kuraly’s deflection goal minutes earlier. Earlier, fans in Capitals red and Bruins black and gold all got into it when Boston captain Zdeno Chara and Washington forward Tom Wilson threw down the gloves in a heavyweight fight in the first.
This was a heavyweight bout in every sense of the term. These teams enter with the most points in the league, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin trailed only David Pastrnak in the goal-scoring race, the Bruins are coming off another trip to the Stanley Cup Final and Washington won its first title in 2018.
After all the talk about this being a mid-December measuring stick for a couple of perennial playoff contenders, the skill level matched the hype.
Pastrnak ripped a perfect shot over Braden Holtby’s left shoulder midway through the first for his league-best 26th of the season. It looked like the Bruins had a two-goal lead on a Patrice Bergeron power-play goal, but Capitals coach Todd Reirden challenged for offside and video review showed Jake DeBrusk was into the zone just before the puck.
Oshie, who had just one goal in his previous 10 games, made the most of nothing but empty ice around him to score off his own rebound on the power play early in the second. Soon after, he turned Bruins defenceman Connor Clifton into a human pylon and beat Jaroslav Halak backhand for a highlight-reel goal.