The Capitals improved to 10-1-1 on the road and have won three of their four games that ended with a shootout.
“We were pushing them and pushing them and pushing them, and then eventually it took for us to the very last minute to get to it, but we finally got the [tying goal] and a great shootout result,” Coach Todd Reirden said.
Vrana did the one thing the Capitals had failed to do all night — make Halak look bad. He deked the goalie out of position, then dragged the puck across the crease before flipping it into the net. Holtby then stopped Chris Wagner to end it.
“In the situation like this, I just felt like you got to do something different to put the puck through him,” Vrana said. “It was just I think good execution. . . . We have a lot of great shootout players, and you know I’ve been watching them and obviously learning from them.”
The Capitals put a season-high 44 shots on Halak. Holtby was tested just 23 times, making 21 saves. Holtby is now 9-1-1 since he was pulled during the team’s loss to Colorado on Oct. 14.
“We’ve taken a lot of games to overtime or shootouts this year, so it’s a good thing we’ve been in close games and been able to pull out multiple,” Holtby said.
The late heroics from Oshie and Vrana helped Washington (15-3-4) avoid a second straight defeat, following Friday’s 5-2 loss at home to Montreal. The Bruins (12-3-5) have one win in their past six games but still lead the Atlantic Division with 29 points. Reirden called Oshie’s play Saturday “outstanding,” noting that it was one of his better back-to-back games in the past couple of years. Oshie’s tally was his 10th of the season.
Reirden said ahead of Saturday’s matchup that this stretch of three games in four nights would be a major challenge for his team. The Capitals have answered just about every difficulty put to them thus far with a league-high 34 points, so the coach welcomed a new kind of adversity. Through 22 games, Reirden said he is still discovering the makeup of the team and how it will respond to adverse circumstances. Saturday’s result was a good first response during the team’s second game of a back-to-back.
“I was happy with our guys tonight in terms of overall play and response we had and then the buy-in and belief,” Reirden said.
The Bruins struck first on Charlie Coyle’s goal at 11:32 of the first period. The lead lasted less than three minutes before Travis Boyd, recalled earlier in the day from Hershey of the American Hockey League, tied it with a skillful deflection. Boyd arrived in a salary cap-related move after injuries to Nic Dowd (hand) and Carl Hagelin (upper body).
“Been a pretty crazy 24 hours for me, I guess, but happy to be back up here and extremely happy to contribute to a big win tonight,” Boyd said.
Before the game, Reirden said the team hasn’t been able to create much offensively — scoring only two goals while at five-on-five against Philadelphia on Wednesday and Montreal. Boyd, the coach hoped, would give the group the spark it needed. He did, briefly, and now has five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games with the Capitals this season.
“His numbers have been really good,” Reirden said. “He’s been able to produce when given the opportunity and create some offense for us, and I think it is a really good situation for him.”
David Pastrnak restored Boston’s lead at 3:30 of the second period, beating Holtby for his 17th goal.
Boyd’s arrival, which came a day after the salary cap-strapped Capitals dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, allowed the Capitals to have 12 healthy forwards after they reassigned goaltender Ilya Samsonov and defenseman Tyler Lewington to Hershey. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek was recalled with Boyd. In a temporary move swapping Samsonov and Vanecek, the Capitals were able to find the cap space needed to recall Boyd.
Dowd and Hagelin are day-to-day; neither made the trip to Boston. They will be reevaluated Sunday ahead of Monday’s game against visiting Anaheim. Dowd has missed two games; Hagelin has missed five.
In addition to putting Boyd in the lineup, the Capitals shook up their lines, reuniting their top six from the 2018 Stanley Cup finals in hopes of producing an offensive spark. The new combinations reunited captain Alex Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson on the top line and Vrana, Nicklas Backstrom and Oshie on the second.
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