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Bruins defense shines in shutout of Caps

Posted by Staff  March 7, 2014 09:26 AM

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In their first game since the trade deadline, the Bruins defense looked rock-solid Thursday night against the usually potent offense of the Washington Capitals that features Alex Ovechkin, the league-leader in goals.

The Bruins allowed just four shots on goal in the first period, and duplicated that effort in the second period. The Capitals made a push in the third period, doubling their shot total from the previous two periods, but it was to no avail, as the Bruins defense shut down any chance the Capitals had at getting back in the game.

“Our guys did a great job of pinning them in; I think our forecheck was really good again,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “We wanted our guys to be a little bit more physical on the forecheck and finish their checks on these guys. They played last night; they’re a little young back there, so it was important for us to get on them physically and make them throw pucks away, and guys did a great job.

“I think our D’s were reading those plays well also and pinching at the right time, but we got some better support from our forwards when our D pinched tonight than we did in the past games.”

“Today [the defense] was the best in a long time; to keep them to 15 shots and not too many scoring chances,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “We had layers all over the ice, and defended the middle really good, and backchecked hard, and had all the elements we want. So it was great to see that.”

The Bruins were able to answer any rush that the Capitals’ offense threw their way, turning it back into momentum for the Bruins’ own forwards, who put the Bruins up by two goals in the second period on scores by Gregory Campbell and Loui Eriksson.

“[Giving them momentum], it’s something that you have to be very careful of, especially when it’s a 2-0 game,” said Zdeno Chara. “That one goal can put them on, feed them and give them energy and we didn’t want to do that. It’s just kind of a fine line that you have to still play a strong game defensively and at the same time, know that they’re kind of one goal away from being back in the game.

“It was a good effort and we battled hard. We stayed disciplined.”

What also contributed to the Bruins success was their ability to stay out of the penalty box all night, helping to silence the Capitals’ power play that scored two goals in Washington’s 4-2 win at the TD Garden last Saturday.

“It helps [to keep it 5-on-5]; you’re kind of afraid of those guys when they get a power play because they’ve got so much firepower and they are so disciplined,” Rask said. “But we didn’t give them any and it’s great to see that.”

“The last time we played them they got two power play goals,” Chara said. “I don’t think it was just their speed; basically we were behind right away. But them scoring those quick power-play goals, it was a different game. Like I said, tonight, without power plays, we played strong five-on-five hockey.”

The Bruins defense was a major question heading into the trade deadline after losing Dennis Seidenberg for the year with a torn ACL and finding out that Adam McQuaid suffered a setback in his rehab from a leg injury.

GM Peter Chiarelli made one big move at the deadline, sending a conditional third round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Andrej Meszaros. Meszaros was in Boston for Thursday’s game, but didn’t suit up for the B’s.

The Bruins also claimed defenseman Corey Potter on waivers from the Edmonton Oilers.

Meszaros is supposed to help fortify the back of the Bruins defense, adding a left-handed shot that can play both sides on the blue line. He had five goals and 12 assists in 38 games with the Flyers, with a plus/minus of +1.

“He’s an experienced player, I think he’s proved over the years,” said Julien about Meszaros before Thursday’s game. “He’s a big body as well. Offensively he supports the attack well; he’s been known to be a pretty good offensive-type defenseman. So with that big body and the way we play I’m sure he will defend well also. Again, I think it will be a matter of time to see how well he fits with us.”

The Bruins hope that their defensive stifling of the Capitals can carry on moving forward, as the team will have a busy schedule over the next week, playing four games in a six day stretch in four different cities.

“You always want to play good defensively, right?” Rask said. “We’ve kind of slipped from that a little bit, but I think guys were sharp mentally today – that’s all it is, it’s just mental errors and not doing the things you’re supposed to do. So today we fixed that and everybody feels good about it.”

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