BOSTON — It is not often that an NHL goaltender pitches a shutout and is not honored by being named one of the game’s three stars, especially when it is the hometown goalie. But that is what happened to Boston’s Tuukka Rask on Thursday night.
Rask made just 16 stops, none of them memorable, for his league-leading sixth shutout of the season, the 22nd of his career, as the Bruins cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.
“Today was one of the best (efforts) in a long time, I think — keep them to (16) shots and not too many scoring chances,” Rask said after the Bruins recorded their third straight win since losing to the Capitals last Saturday. “We had layers all over the ice and defended the middle really good and back-checked hard — all of the elements we want to have.”
“I thought we played really good in all three zones, and for 60 minutes, too,” Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson said. “We just battled hard and we outworked them today.”
Center Gregory Campbell and Eriksson both scored their seventh goals of the season in the second period and left winger Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal to close the scoring with 1:34 left.
It was Marchand’s 21st goal of the season. For Campbell, the Bruins’ fourth-line center, it was his fourth goal in four games — after having scored one in the previous 30. Eriksson returned after missing a game with a heel infection that resulted from a cut suffered in Sochi during the Olympics.
Short-handed because of injuries and suspension and having played and lost a physical game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Capitals, who lost their third straight, played their fourth game in six days and showed life, albeit not much, only in the third period, when they got half of their shots.
They came close to scoring when right winger Alex Ovechkin failed to convert from right in front of Rask. But Ovechkin, who had two power-play goals and nine shots on goal last Saturday, had just one shot in the game.
The Capitals, who have a potent power play, did not get a chance with the extra man in the first penalty-free game involving the Bruins since 2001.
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby’s 40 saves kept the game from getting out of hand. He suffered his first regular season loss in five decisions against the Bruins.
He was named the game’s third star.
“It’s tough because we’re in a playoff battle, obviously,” said Holtby, whose team is currently on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. “It was frustrating, but it’s no more frustrating to me than it is to the other guys in the room.
“We want to play better. We know we can play better, and we’re going to have to start.”
Rask, playing in his career-high 46th game of the season, came in 0-3 with a 3.54 goals-against-average against the Capitals.
The win moved the Bruins to within a point of the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Eastern Conference. The Penguins played the San Jose Sharks on the West Coast on Thursday night.
The Capitals were about to get whistled for a penalty when the Bruins scored with the extra man 3:05 into the second period. Campbell tipped home fellow center Patrice Bergeron’s shot for the only goal that was needed.
Eriksson made it 2-0 on a snap-shot after taking a pass from center Carl Soderberg at 8:20 of the second before Campbell closed out the scoring with the empty-netter in the last two minutes.
NOTES: Two female fans were injured after the game when one of the nets that rise high behind the goals came crashing down. Both were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. … The Capitals were missing D John Erskine (upper body, perhaps suffered when he fought two Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday), D Dmitry Orlov (NHL suspension), RW Brooks Laich (groin) and C Mikhail Grabovski (ankle). They summoned D Cameron Schilling and RW Chris Brown (just acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes) from the minors. … G Jaroslav Halak, just acquired by the Capitals and 8-3 with two shutouts and a 1.86 goals-against average lifetime against the Bruins, was the backup. … D Andrej Meszaros and D Corey Potter, both newly acquired by the Bruins, were healthy scratches. … The Bruins shut down D Adam McQuaid for two to three weeks as he tries to heal a quad injury. … … The Capitals open a two-game homestand on Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Bruins start a three-game trip on Saturday at Tampa Bay.