Caps roll 8-1 in Chara’s 1st game in front of Bruins fans
T.J. Oshie scored one of his two goals in Washington's three-goal first-period and former Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara played his first game in front of Boston's fans in the Capitals' 8-1 victory Sunday night.
Conor Sheary and Lars Eller each also scored twice, and Tom Wilson and Nic Dowd each had one of the season-high goals scored by the Capitals in their first victory in regulation against Boston this season. The Bruins had gotten at least a point in the clubs' five previous meetings (3-0-2).
Rookie Vitek Vanecek stopped 34 shots, but lost a chance for his second shutout when Craig Smith scored a power-play goal 3 minutes into the third.
"I definitely think it's important to get that playoff feel moving forward," Sheary said. "We want to play these important games this time of year. You don't want to be, maybe it sounds bad, but you don't want to be too far ahead where you're kind of coasting into playoffs."
Washington is tied with the New York Islanders for first in the NHL's East division.
The Bruins played a video tribute for Chara on the Jumbotron midway into the opening period with Washington already leading 2-0. He got a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd, which was limited by the state to 12% capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Skating near his bench, Chara appeared touched, raising his stick and clapping back to the crowd before patting his chest with his left glove and waving.
The 44-year-old Chara was the Bruins' captain for his 14 seasons with the club. He helped them win the 2011 Stanley Cup, and was a key part of its runner-up teams in 2013 and 2019.
After all the players left the ice when the game was over, he skated out, waved and went to a corner, pointing up to the seats.
Chara, who signed a one-year deal with Washington in the offseason, said on a Zoom interview after the morning skate that his wife and three children, who still live in Boston, were expected to be at the game.
"It was great for him to have that for the fans," Boston captain Patrice Bergeron said. "I know its only 12% capacity, but he deserves that. I know he's done so much for the organization."
Washington jumped ahead 3-0 in the opening half of the period, starting when Oshie one-timed Nicklas Backstrom's pass into the net from the slot for a power-play goal at 7:33.
Just 16 seconds later, Eller took a pass from Carl Hagelin, cut around Boston defenseman Jarred Tinordi and flipped a shot over Dan Vladar's glove.
"We wanted to make sure we had a good 60 minutes," Wilson said. "I know its a cliché, but it was pretty good tonight and we got the job done."
Sheary scored on a 3-on-2 break to make it 3-0 at 9:42. He also scored off a rebound for a power-play goal early in the second.
"I don't think these games are helpful for anyone unless your team was arrogant and winning all the time and needed to be taken down a notch," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "It was a tough one for Dan, but a lot of guys in front of him could have done a better job battling through it."
The Bruins were missing four of their top defensemen. Charlie McAvoy (third straight game), Matt Grzelcyk (injured Saturday) and Brandon Carlo (fifth straight) are all out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Kevan Miller, working back from offseason knee surgery, didn't play because it was consecutive days.
"We talked about it. We knew they were going through some injuries," Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. "The message was simple: 'Get it behind them and see if we can get it in the offensive zone.'"
The Bruins announced after the game they replenished some depth on their banged-up blue line by trading a 2022 third-round pick to Ottawa for Mike Reilly.
The 27-year-old left-shooting defenseman has 19 assists in 40 games this season with the Senators.
The Capitals traded Jonas Siegenthaler to New Jersey on Sunday for a 2021 third-round pick. Washington cleared $800,000 in salary-cap space before the trade deadline Monday by dealing one of the eight defensemen on its active roster.
The 23-year-old Siegenthaler is a restricted free agent after this season. A 2015 second-round pick from Switzerland, he has 13 points in 97 regular-season NHL games, all with the Capitals.
"I know that Jonas wants to play, he wanted to play so I hope it is a good fit for him," Laviolette said.
Washington defenseman Brenden Dillon and Boston forward Chris Wagner dropped the gloves for a fight 4 seconds into the game. ... Backstrom needs two games for 1,000 in his career. ... It was Boston's first of a five-game homestand. ... It was a season high for goals allowed by Boston, and the first time the Capitals scored eight since an 8-1 win at Atlanta on Jan. 9, 2010.
Capitals: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Bruins: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.