The Boston Bruins (21-7-9, 51 points) and Washington Capitals (26-6-5, 57 points) conclude their 2019-20 season series tonight when they meet for the third and final time. It is the second meeting at TD Garden between the sides. The Capitals took a 3-2 shootout decision at TD Garden on November 16th. They also won the lone meeting in Washington 3-2 earlier this month. The Bruins will be without captain Zdeno Chara, who is undergoing surgery for his jaw injury from June’s Stanley Cup Final.
Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The Bruins will be without Chara tonight when they take on the Capitals. Chara will undergo a follow-up procedure on his jaw to remove the plates and screws in it after an infection developed recently. Chara suffered the injury during Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but did not miss a game.
“The area where the surgery was done got infected, which is kind of rare, but it does happen after six months,” Chara told the media on Sunday. “The decision was made to avoid maybe further troubleshooting with that area, basically to remove all the plates and screws and clean it up. Instead of putting the plates in, they’re going to be taking the plates out.”
The Bruins, like the rest of the NHL, will have a three-day break for the Christmas holiday after tonight’s game. As a result, Chara does not expect to miss more than one game. The Bruins return to action December 27th against Buffalo and hope to have Chara back.
“We tried to plan this and obviously we tried to make that decision ahead of time. That’s what it is. We tried to take advantage of that little break that we have coming up so it’s not too demanding on the body. It worked out to be the last game before the Christmas break.”
Saturday night wasn’t what the Bruins were hoping it would be. They dropped another overtime decision, this time to the Nashville Predators. The silver lining in the loss? The Bruins depth was a factor in the contest. The fourth line, with Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie subbing in, scored the game’s opening goal.
Lindholm banged home a rebound at 7:30 of the second period to open the scoring, with Ritchie picking up the assist.
“They scored a goal. It’s scruffy, but it’s a puck to the net. They win a puck in the neutral zone…you’re not going to get rewarded like that every night, but if you play simple and straight lines, then as a staff, you tend to want to use those guys more because they’re playing the right way, so good for them,” Bruce Cassidy remarked postgame.
“Lindy (Par Lindholm) and (Brett) Ritchie hadn’t played in a while, so obviously they’re trying to make a statement that they want to stay in the lineup, and we’re pleased with their effort.”
The Capitals took both games they played over the weekend, defeating the New Jersey Devils on Friday night and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Washington killed nine of ten penalties they took in the two games, including going 7-for-7 on the kill against the Lightning on Saturday.
“We stuck with our game plan,” Braden Holtby told the team’s official website. “Obviously, they’re going to get some looks at 5-on-3, to shoot at anyway. The biggest thing in those situations is when they get something, we don’t get running around. We didn’t.
“We stuck to our process, we trusted me to make those saves, took away lateral options. And all night we were like that, especially against a power play like that. They’re going to get looks. They’re too skilled not to. It’s just a matter of when they get them, don’t get to running around after, and we did a great job of that.”
Washington’s victory on Saturday not only completed the sweep of back-to-back weekend tilts, but also completed an impressive three-game season series sweep over the Lightning. Dmitry Orlov’s goal at 17:37 of the third period proved to be the game winner, while Nic Dowd scored a shorthanded goal at 17:37 to cement the victory.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Joakim Nordstrom
Sean Kuraly – Par Lindholm – Brett Ritchie
John Moore – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
Bruins lines are subject to change. Cassidy confirmed that Moore will replace Chara for the Bruins, and will be paired with McAvoy. Rask is expected to start tonight. David Backes and Chris Wagner are the likely scratches up front. Karson Kuhlman remains on IR, but was a full participant at practice on Sunday.
Washington Capitals Lines
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler – Radko Gudas