Capitals Beat Bruins 5-3 In Braden Holtby's First NHL Win

Three goals from defensemen, including the game-winner by John Carlson, helped give the Capitals a 5-3 victory in goaltender Braden Holtby's first NHL appearance.

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: John Carlson Scores Game-Winner For The Caps

In a game that saw both teams replace their goaltenders, young Braden Holtby got a win for the Capitals in his first ever NHL appearance. The Bruins pulled TIm Thomas during the second intermission after he gave up three goals in the prior period, and Michal Neuvirth was pulled less than 10 minutes later.

For the second time tonight, the Capitals won a faceoff and converted it immediately into a goal. Earlier in the game it was Tomas Fleishmann who won the draw to set up Tyler Sloan. This time it was Boyd Gordon, Eric Fehr, and John Carlson who combined for the winning goal.

Gordon won the faceoff and slipped the puck back to Fehr. A nice soft touch from the winger gave Carlson a chance to send in a shot through traffic and past Boston reserve goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Alex Ovechkin iced off the game for the Capitals as he punched the puck into Boston's open net after Rask was removed in the final minute of the game.

Holtby, the 21-year old Canadian goaltender, made four saves in the win.

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: Braden Holtby Makes NHL Debut As Boston Ties Game At 3

The Bruins made it a contest with two quick power play goals in the opening 4:02 of the third period. Michael Ryder first got his team on the scoreboard by finishing off a rebound, beating John Erskine to the puck in front of Michal Neuvirth's goal. Less than a minute later, Nathan Horton knotched his sixth goal of the season with a slap shot just inside the Washington blue line.

The Capitals' penalty kill unit that has been such a significant success story for the squad this season suddenly doesn't feel so successful.

The Bruins tied up the game just prior to the midway point of the final period. Shawn Thornton capitalized on a two-on-one break as he teamed with Brad Marchand to avoid Karl Alzner and score. Neuvirth, who seemed to attempt to cover a pass while Thornton was shooting, was pulled by Bruce Boudreau immediately after the tying goal.

AHL star goaltender Braden Holtby has now entered the game to make his NHL debut. Holtby has won two trophies with the Hershey Bears while backing up Neuvirth, and now he'll get the change to earn a win in his first NHL appearance by backing up Neuvirth once again.

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: Tyler Sloan, Mike Green, Alexander Semin Give Caps 3-0 Lead

The violent end to the first period seems to have awakened the Capitals.

Tyler Sloan opened his personal scoring account of the the season and opened Washington's scoring account for the game with a goal in the first minute of the second period. Tomas Fleishmann earned the assist on the goal, winning a face off and setting up Sloan from the point. Sloan used a screen to put the puck past Tim Thomas and into the back of the net.

The second goal for the Capitals came just seven minutes later. Mike Green started the passing sequence from Washington's own red line. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom each tallied assists as the captain found Green in space, and the defenseman held onto the puck to avoid a sliding Gregory Campbell before snapping a shot past Thomas's left glove. It was a "slow mo curl and drag" according to Craig Laughlin. Green now has goals in three straight games for the Capitals.

That wasn't all though. Even when limited to only four players on the ice, the Capitals still manage to score. On a Bruins power play, Alexander Semin blocked an entry pass attempt into the zone and hopped around Patrice Bergeron to start the counterattack. He carried the puck into Boston's area, laid it off to Green, and then finished with a one timer after receiving the puck back from Green on a give-and-go. The Capitals now lead the NHL in short-handed goals.

After holding the Bruins to only three shots on goal in the first period, the least the Capitals have allowed in a period all season, the Capitals gave up 6 shots in the second. In the mean time, Washington has 25 shots so far tonight. The Bruins might be feeling lucky this game is even close.

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: Teams Play To Scoreless First Period

An uneventful first period has drawn to a close for the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. However, things are starting to get a bit heated.

Late in the first period, Capitals center Matt Hendricks dropped his gloves to brawl with the much larger Adam McQuaid of the Bruins. Hendricks didn't appear to get any punches in, but he did take McQuaid down to the ice in the end. Following the fight, Eric Fehr and Milan Lucic had to be separated for the second time. Tensions continue to brew between these Eastern Conference opponents.

The best chance for either side came midway through the period when the Capitals earned a 5-on-3 against the Bruins for 58 seconds following Brad Marchand's tripping penalty on Mike Knuble. The Caps managed two shots on goal on the 2-man advantage power play, but could not get the puck past goaltender Tim Thomas.

As this game continues to get more chippy between two of the most consistently successful teams in the Conference, it's hard to say whether or not the game will remain scoreless much longer.

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: Marcus Johansson, D.J. King Scratched

The puck has just dropped at Verizon Center and the lineups for each team are in.

After giving rookie Marcus Johansson a chance to prove his readiness by skating in warm-ups, Bruce Boudreau elected to scratch the winger for at least one more game. Johansson is recovering from an injury that has kept him out of the lineup since October 21, which just happens to be the last time these two teams faced off.

Hard hitting D.J. King was also scratched from the lineup tonight. King has been suiting up for most games lately, but will make way for some more skilled players against the 7-2-0 Bruins.

According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, the lineups for the Capitals will be as follws:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin
Laich-Fleischmann-Knuble
Chimera-Gordon-Fehr
Hendricks-Steckel-Bradley

Defense
Schultz-Green
Alzner-Carlson
Erskine-Sloan

Goal
Neuvirth
Holtby

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Bruins Vs. Capitals: Washington Hopes To Extract Revenge Against Boston

If we really think about it, all this angst over the Washington Capitals' supposed slow start comes back to two games that took place over a month ago. Those two games were against the Boston Bruins. In the third and fourth games of the season, the Bruins beat up the Capitals 3-2 and 4-1, respectively, demonstrating a supposed blueprint of how to beat the Capitals.

Now, the Capitals will have their chance at revenge. They will take on the Bruins tonight at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center, as they look to build on some recent impressive performances. The Capitals will be mostly healthy, with Tom Poti coming back from injury and Mike Green at full strength now, so this is their chance to top a team that's given them issues this year. 

The Bruins' success against the Capitals is very much due to goalie Tim Thomas. The Capitals must solve that riddle first and foremost. However, they also need to find a way to get good shot attempts, something that didn't happen in the first two games against Boston. If they can, they should find more success. 

For more, check out the game thread over at Japers Rink.

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