Capitals look to continue domination of Bruins
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BOSTON -- The last time the Washington Capitals faced the Boston Bruins, the game didn't mean much.
It was the final game of last regular season and while the Bruins remained a potential first-round playoff opponent, the Caps had already wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy and didn't need the game played at TD Garden.
But they won that game. In fact, they beat the Bruins for the ninth straight time, completing a third straight season series sweep.
That was a stretch started by three straight Braden Holtby shutouts, and Holtby leads his Caps, who have been better on the road than at home so far this season, into Boston for Saturday night's season-series opener.
The Capitals, 6-6-1 on the season, are 4-3-1 on the road and ended a three-game home losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders Thursday night to improve to 2-3 on home ice.
Holtby, who made 35 saves to keep his team from its first four-game home losing streak in a decade, is 11-2-0 with a 1.80 goals against average and .945 save percentage lifetime against Boston.
"I think (Holtby) was really sharp tonight," teammate John Carlson said after Thursday's win "Obviously we gave up the two (power play) goals, but otherwise he was real dialed in and real sharp. He made every big momentum swing save, and that's huge for us."
While Washington scored first for the first time in eight games and then survived the Islanders (Lars Eller scoring twice in the win), the Bruins were pulling out a 2-1 home decision over the Vegas Golden Knights. Sean Kuraly's first NHL regular season goal midway through the third period was the difference.
Already dealing with all kinds of early season injury and illness trouble, Boston was missing Brad Marchand from practice Friday. Marchand was getting what coach Bruce Cassidy called a maintenance day for a lower-body injury. He is expected to play Saturday but the Bruins (5-3-3) will again be without David Krejci (back).
Boston center David Backes had surgery Thursday to remove part of his colon and is expected to miss eight weeks.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who snapped a personal five-game losing streak (0-3-2) with a strong game Thursday, enters Saturday's game with a dismal 1-9-5 record, a 3.07 goals against average and .889 save percentage lifetime against Washington.
The Bruins made too many mistakes in front of their own net Thursday. Torey Krug, who assisted on both goals, was the major culprit but the team needs him to come through on offense.
"Physically, I missed training camp, a lot of exhibition games (with a broken jaw)," Krug said after the game. "On the mental side of things, you get pretty frustrated because you know how well you can play, but you're just not playing up to your potential and the stars aren't lining up for you. It's a grind both mentally and physically."
Said coach Bruce Cassidy: "His game has been coming around anyway. For the most part it's been solid ... he's been managing the puck well, making his plays, starting to feel like Torey again. (Thursday night) was good.
"We need his offense, especially now since we're a little bit depleted. So if he can add some secondary scoring like he generally does then we will be that much better."
Updated November 3, 2017