Boston's four first-period goals had chased Washington starter Braden Holtby, but no one on the Bruins bench was all that confident Monday night with almost 35 minutes left in the game against a team that had beaten them in 16 of the previous 17 tries.
That's when Brad Marchand forced a turnover at center ice and tipped the puck ahead to Charlie Coyle, who skated in for a short-handed goal to give Boston a 5-0 lead. The Bruins went on to a 7-3 victory that snapped a five-game home losing streak.
''The shorty definitely was big. They had an opportunity to get back in the game,'' Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team held on despite being outshot 34-6 over the final two periods. ''It's been a while since we've been in the winner's circle here.''
Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork scored 27 seconds apart in a four-goal first period against Holtby, and Coyle's short-handed goal in the second made it a five-goal lead before Alex Ovechkin put Washington on the board.
Lars Eller cut the deficit to 5-2 with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the third before David Krecji added an empty netter. After Garnet Hathaway caught the Boston defense napping on a would-be icing call with just over two minutes left, Patrice Bergeron scored an empty-netter for his second goal of the game and a 7-3 lead.
''We've had a tough time against Washington lately,'' said David Pastrnak, who had a pair of assists and a roughing penalty for fighting Tom Wilson as the game got chippy in the last half of the third period.
''That's what it takes to beat this team,'' Pastrnak said. ''It reminded me a little bit of playoff hockey. Sometimes those games are like that in December.''
Tuukka Rask made 39 saves to snap his five-game losing streak and help Boston win for just the second time in its last 10. The Capitals had won eight straight in Boston and 16 of the previous 17 matchups overall.
Krejci had two assists and an empty-netter, and Jake DeBrusk also scored for Boston.
Holtby allowed four goals on 11 shots for Washington, which had won 10 of its previous 12 games. Ilya Samsonov replaced him to start the second period and stopped three of the four shots he faced in almost 38 minutes.
''Obviously, we gave Holts no chance,'' Ovechkin said. ''We left him alone in the first 10-11-12 minutes, take penalties, made bad plays. ... You can see the last two periods how we played, to have chances to come back. But in the first period we lost the game.''
The Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals had won each of the two previous meetings this season, but the Atlantic-leading Bruins owned this one from the start. DeBrusk scored about five minutes in, and then Marchand made it 2-0 at 13:29 on the rebound of Pastrnak's shot.
Before the announcement could be completed, Coyle brought the puck out from behind Holtby and Bjork slapped it in to make it 3-0. Bergeron tipped in a shot from Pastrnak on a 5-on-3 advantage with a minute left in the period to give Boston a 4-0 lead.
The Bruins almost had another goal on one of the odder plays of the season.
David Krejci was called for tripping Ovechkin behind the Washington net, but before Boston could gain possession the Capitals knocked the puck into their own goal. A replay confirmed an inadvertent whistle blew the play dead before the puck went in.
No matter. Coyle scored a short-handed goal on the ensuing power play to make it 5-0. It was the 100th goal of his career.
NOTES: Bruins D Zdeno Chara missed his first game of the season to have surgery on the jaw he injured during the Stanley Cup Final. According to the Bruins, the metal plate and screws doctors had inserted have become infected, so they will be removed. Chara hoped to be back for Friday's game against Buffalo. ... Holtby was pulled for the second time this season. ... Boston D Torey Krug left after a hit by Tom Wilson and did not return. Wilson received a 10-minute misconduct penalty for fighting with 6:34 left in the game.
Capitals: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Bruins: Visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
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