WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Capitals were scuffling while the Boston Bruins had been streaking.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby helped alter both story lines.
Holtby made 32 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, Nicklas Backstrom became Washington’s career assists leader, and the Capitals cooled off the surging Bruins with a 2-0 victory Sunday night.
Rebounding from being pulled during the second period of Friday night’s loss after allowing four goals on 22 shots, Holtby blanked Boston for the second time this season.
“I think all of us took that to heart, how we played the other night,” he said of Washington’s 4-2 loss to Dallas, which resulted in a players-only meeting.
“Something I learned at a young age was it’s OK to have one bad game, just make sure it’s not two in a row. So we all kind of had that mentality.”
Washington, which had lost three of four on its five-game homestand, moved two points ahead of Boston for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
“I think this shows there is good leadership in the room,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “It was a great response.”
Backstrom assisted on goals by John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, moving past Michal Pivonka and Alex Ovechkin (418 each) on the Capitals’ assists list with 420.
“It’s a nice bonus,” the low-key Backstrom said. “It’s always (nice) when you get credit for something; maybe you’ve done something good.”
The Bruins had won five straight, and were 7-0-1 in their last eight. Tuukka Rask, playing his second game in as two nights, stopped 36 shots.
“Obviously, when you give up the first goal it’s tougher,” Rask said, “but I thought we got better as the game went on. We just couldn’t score on Holtby again.”
Washington scored on its only power-play opportunity, then killed off all four Boston chances.
After mustering only 20 shots Friday night, the Capitals outshot the Bruins 10-1 over the first 4:15 — but nothing got by Rask.
Then at 12:27, Brad Marchand went off for roughing and it took Washington just 16 seconds to convert. Backstrom fed Carlson, and Carlson one-timed a shot past Rask from the point for his 11th of the season.
Backstrom leads the NHL with 53 assists, including seven in his last seven games.
Boston stepped up the pressure on Holtby in the second, but he was equal to it, stopping 14 shots, including a point-blank slapper from Torey Krug.
“I don’t know how he does it,” Schmidt said. “Everyone else is all ramped up and he’s as cool as a cucumber at all times.”
Fortuitous deflections aided Washington’s second goal. Tom Wilson’s shot was blocked right to Schmidt, whose drive from the point deflected in off Boston’s Gregory Campbell. It was Schmidt’s first goal of the season.
“We missed some opportunities and the second goal kind of hurt us a lot,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “The puck is going wide and it hits Campbell and goes in, so they got a break on that.”
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.