Capitals eliminated in Game 5 thanks to Rask, other top Bruins

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The Bruins became the first team in the East Division to advance to the Second Round after eliminating the Capitals in Game 5. As hard as the Capitals fought in Game 5, they fell to the Bruins 3-1.

First and foremost, Tuukka Rask was once again brilliant. Beyond Rask, other key Bruins came through where Capitals’ top stars could not.

After dropping Game 1 in overtime, the Bruins won four straight games to eliminate the Capitals. This felt closer than a 4-1 series score, but that’s how it ended up.

Let’s touch on some of the reasons why the Bruins won Game 5, and eliminated the Capitals, in general.

Bruins’ best were better than Capitals’ best — including in Game 5

The Bruins generating a 2-0 lead in the second period of Game 5 must have been especially crushing for the Capitals.

After a scoreless opening frame, the Capitals generated a 20-4 shots on goal advantage in the second period. Despite that disparity, the Bruins scored both goals during the middle frame, and the difference must have felt glaring for the Capitals on this David Pastrnak goal:

To some extent, the Bruins’ best players have just been that good. That certainly extends to the deeply underrated Tuukka Rask, who’s been on fire during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Aside from Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, the Capitals’ top players struggled to score. Anthony Mantha managed two assists through the first four games of the series, but no goals. Nicklas Backstrom looked especially off, only generating one helper.

Far too much of the Capitals’ offense came from Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd.

As much as you need unsung heroes during a deep playoff run — Capitals fans can point to the likes of Joel Ward — it’s none ideal when they’re doing so much heavy lifting.

Some soul-searching for Washington?

For the second straight postseason, there was at least the occasional sense that the Capitals were “out of gas.”

Sometimes, things look worse simply when you’re losing. In particular, things feel dour when you’re struggling to score. You’d be beyond foolish to claim that the effort wasn’t there for the Capitals vs. the Bruins in Game 5.

But it’s fair to ask if the Capitals might want to consider “load management” and other rest-related considerations. Ponder, for a moment, the advancing age of core players:

  • Alex Ovechkin is 35, and needs a new deal.
  • Backstrom is 33, while T.J. Oshie is 34. (Some of us will groan about our own advancing age there.)
  • John Carlson is 31, and basically all of Washington’s most prominent defensemen are in that range.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov, 29, might be on his way out. But that hinges on someone taking on his not-insignificant $7.8M AAV (through 2024-25). Might be a tough sell if this season understandably soured some on Kuznetsov.
  • They even got marginally older in exchanging Jakub Vrana for Anthony Mantha.

Don’t get this twisted. This isn’t to say that the Capitals are ancient. Still, sometimes the aging curve can create drastic dives. Other times, that decline can be subtler.

When you’re facing elite teams like the Bruins, is that where the Capitals need that extra “oomph?” Could they do more to give Ovechkin, Backstrom, and others valuable rest? (With Ovechkin chasing Gretzky’s goals record, that might be a tough sell. But he probably hasn’t been feeling great lately, as he limped into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.)

Again, not necessarily material for a panic. The Capitals should at least think this over, as they couldn’t get over the hump against the Islanders last year, and couldn’t solve the Bruins here.

CAPITALS VS. BRUINS (BOS wins series 4-1)

Game 1: Capitals 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Game 2: Bruins 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
Game 3: Bruins 3, Capitals 2 (2OT)
Game 4: Bruins 4, Capitals 1
Game 5: Bruins 3, Capitals 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.