The Boston Bruins picked up right where they left off before the holiday break and attempt to extend their winning streak to six contests when they begin a three-game road trip Thursday against the Washington Capitals. Boston won its final four games before the three-day layoff and returned Wednesday to post a 5-1 home victory over Ottawa.
Riley Nash helped the Bruins complete a perfect three-game homestand, recording the fourth two-goal performance of his career and adding an assist for his second three-point effort in the NHL. Boston is looking to avenge a 5-3 home loss on Dec. 14 to Washington, which returns to the nation’s capital after losing the final three contests on its four-game road trip (1-1-2). The Capitals hope to get on the scoreboard against the Bruins after being blanked 3-0 at Vegas on Saturday and dropping a 1-0 decision in a shootout against the Rangers in New York on Wednesday. Philipp Grubauer made 37 saves versus the Rangers for his first shutout of the season but figures to be back on the bench Thursday in favor of Braden Holtby, who had won four straight starts before falling to the Golden Knights.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet 360, TVA, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (20-10-5): Brad Marchand was kept off the scoresheet Wednesday for the third time in four games and remains one assist shy of 200 for his career. Patrice Bergeron also has landed on the scoresheet just once in his last four contests and is five points away from 700 in the NHL. The 32-year-old is tied for third on the team in scoring with rookie Danton Heinen, who registered a goal and an assist against Ottawa to raise his point total to 24.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (22-13-3): Evgeny Kuznetsov, who leads the team with 38 points, is slated to appear in his 300th NHL game on Thursday. Captain Alex Ovechkin tops the club with 23 goals and is one point behind Kuznetsov even though he has been kept off the scoresheet in four straight contests. Despite its current winless streak, Washington - which is 1-for-22 on the power play over its last nine games - has earned points in six of its last seven overall contests (4-1-2).
1. Bruins G Tuukka Rask, the NHL’s reigning First Star of the Week, likely will be rested after improving to 9-0-1 over his last 10 starts with Wednesday’s victory.
2. Washington is a perfect 6-0-0 at home this month and has lost just once in its last nine at Capital One Arena.
3. Nash’s two-goal performance versus the Senators ended his 10-game drought and doubled his output for the season.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Bruins 2