Preview: Capitals at Bruins
The Boston Bruins have plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves, winning a season-high five straight games, but they will get a true test of where they stand on Thursday night. Boston will try to halt a 13-game losing streak against the Washington Capitals, who routed the Bruins 7-0 in the season opener and have won their last six visits to TD Garden.
"We've got to get over the hurdle," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said of facing Washington. "They're the defending Stanley Cup champions and if you want to be the best you've got to beat the best." The Bruins have outscored the opposition 19-9 during their winning streak and will be looking to complete a perfect four-game homestand after blanking Minnesota 4-0 on Tuesday night. The Capitals answered a three-game slide (0-2-1) with back-to-back victories over Detroit and Philadelphia to remain atop the Metropolitan Division. Washington has won 15 of its last 16 games against Eastern Conference opponents, including eight in a row on the road.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN Plus, TVAS, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific, NBCS Washington, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (26-12-4): Second-year forward Jakub Vrana posted the first three-point game of his career in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Philadelphia, scoring twice to push his goal total to 14, eclipsing his previous high of 13. "You can see what he can do with his legs, and somehow his hands move just as fast," said linemate T.J. Oshie, who also had a pair of goals Tuesday. "He is a big part of our team moving into a bigger role for us, and he has been a big player so far this year." Center Nicklas Backstrom sat out Tuesday's game due to illness but he was on the ice at Wednesday's optional practice.
ABOUT THE BRUINS (25-14-4): Forward Danton Heinen has struggled to follow up his 16-goal season as a rookie in 2017-18, enduring his third goal drought of at least 11 games before opening the scoring to ignite Tuesday's win over the Wild. “We’re having contributions from everyone right now and the fourth line is kind of leading the way with that and they’ve been great,” forward Brad Marchand said of Heinen's unit. "We need everyone to chip in." Marchand matched linemate Patrice Bergeron with a goal and an assist Tuesday to give him six tallies and 14 points over his last nine games.
1. Bruins G Jaroslav Halak, who has allowed four goals in his last eight starts, is 9-9-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average versus Washington.
2. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has one goal in his last 10 games but has 22 tallies and 47 points in 45 contests against Boston.
3. Bruins D Charlie McAvoy, out the past six games with an infected foot, practiced Wednesday and expects to return on Saturday.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Capitals 3