Pre-game primer: Caps vs. Bruins

Pre-game primer: Caps vs. Bruins
March 16, 2013, 9:45 am
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News and notes as the Capitals gear up for their 1 p.m puck drop [CSN] against the Bruins at Boston’s TD Garden:

What it means: The Caps need to build off Thursday night’s invigorating come-from-behind 3-2 win in Carolina if they hope to close the seven-point gap between themselves and the eighth-place Winnipeg Jets, whom they’ll visit in a pivotal two-game set next week. With a win the 12th-place Caps can climb within two points of the 11th-place Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings. As for the Bruins, they need a win to stay within one point of the Canadiens and Penguins, who lead the East with 40 points.

Who will start? Caps coach Adam Oates faces a difficult decision between the pipes. Does he go with Braden Holtby [9-9-0, 2.97], who has allowed bad first-period goals in each of his last two games, or Michal Neuvirth [2-4-1, 2.86], who shut the door after allowing two first-period goals against the Canes on Thursday night?

Looking back: The Capitals staged their most thrilling comeback of the season the last time these two teams met on March 5 at Verizon Center. Trailing 3-0 after one period, the Caps received goals from Mike Ribeiro, Tomas Kundraek and Wojtek Wolski before Eric Fehr won it in overtime when he split defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton and scored an incredible goal.

What they were saying: “I think it says a lot about our character," Fehr said after scoring that game-winning goal in Boston. "This team believes in ourselves.” Said Boston’s Brad Marchand: “We had the game in the bag and we got complacent. ... It never should have gone to overtime; that’s on us, we’ve got to be better.”

Since then: Since their last meeting, the Caps have gone 2-3-0 while the Bruins have gone 4-1-0.

Remember when? The last time the Caps played a game in Boston, Joel Ward was leaping in the air and getting mobbed by teammates following his series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The date was April 25, 2012.

Ovi milestone: Alex Ovechkin, who has 30 points in 28 career games against the Bruins, picked up his 700th and 701st career points in the Caps’ win in Carolina. Among active NHL players, only Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne have gotten to 700 points faster than Ovechkin. He is the third  player in Capitals history to reach 700 points in a Caps jersey, joining Peter Bondra and Mike Gartner. Ovechkin reached his milestone in his 579th game, becoming the fastest NHLer to 700 points since Peter Forsberg got there in his 549th game in October 2003.

Where they rank: The Caps rank 2nd in the NHL on the power play [25.3 percent]; the Bruins rank 20th [16 percent] and last at home [7.5 percent]. The Caps rank 28th in the NHL in penalty killing [77.2 percent]; the Bruins rank first [92.8 percent].

Late finishers: The Caps have outscored opponents 25-14 in the third period since Feb. 1 and have won three games this season when trailing after two periods. Only the Ducks and Oilers [four each] have won more.

Stingy B’s: The Bruins have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL [54]; the Caps are tied for 18th in the league at 78.

Injury report: The Caps are expected to be without defensemen Tomas Kundratek [lower body], Mike Green [groin], John Erskine [upper body] and Jack Hillen [upper body], which meand rookie Cameron Schilling should see his second NHL game. The Bruins will be without forwards Chris Kelly, [broken leg], but defenseman Adam McQuaid [upper body] could return to the lineup.

What’s next: After the game the Caps will catch a flight back to D.C., where they’ll face the Buffalo Sabres [10-14-3] Sunday at 7 p.m. at Verizon Center.