Wed, 16 Jun 2021

Bruins, Caps to test mettle in regular-season finale

Field Level Media
11 May 2021, 20:55 GMT+10

The term playoff preview often is overused in sports.

But for the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, Tuesday night's regular-season finale in the nation's capital will indeed serve as an appetizer heading into their showdown in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bruins clinched third place in the East Division with a 3-2 overtime victory against the visiting New York Islanders on Monday night. Trade-deadline acquisition Taylor Hall capped a two-goal performance by scoring 2:53 into the extra session.

"It's good to get the two points," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Now we're locked in."

While the Capitals (35-15-5, 75 points) and Bruins (33-15-7, 73 points) could finish tied in the standings with a Boston victory in the regular-season finale, Washington already clinched second place in the division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs because of a greater number of games won in regulation and overtime (32 to 29).

The key storyline in the first-round matchup will be Zdeno Chara facing his former team.

The towering defenseman captained the Bruins for 14 seasons before signing with Washington in the offseason.

"He knows when we're doing certain plays," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "Obviously, teams will do video and stuff like that, but he knows all the code names that we use and typically the situations that we like to use them in. So even when we played them this season, we could see him talking to guys about the plays that we were going to do. So it could definitely cause some challenges at times. But it's playoffs, you've got to work through that there."

The Capitals will just try to keep their injury list from growing Tuesday.

They were unable to dress the usual 18 skaters because of injuries and other absences Saturday night. Despite having a shorthanded crew, Washington recorded a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers after Lars Eller scored with 40 seconds left in regulation and Conor Sheary netted the winner in overtime.

"I don't know how we pulled it off, to be honest," Eller said. "I can't remember ever missing so many guys and guys dropping during the game. Really a lot of guys showed a lot of character today and stepped up in different ways."

T.J. Oshie left during the game with a lower-body injury and fellow forward Tom Wilson went down in pain.

"It's kind of like a 'here we go again,'" Sheary said. "That's kind of the way it's been the last few games. ... It's never fun to see that this late in the year."

The Capitals were already playing without captain and leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, top two centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, No. 1 defenseman John Carlson and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson are day to day with lower-body injuries, while Kuznetsov and Samsonov were unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol.

"Everybody -- everybody -- is a lower-body injury," Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. "We didn't rest anybody. If we had guys that were up to where they need to be to play, we would have pushed. The lineup would have been different. We dressed all the available players for us."

--Field Level Media

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