3 Keys: Bruins vs. Capitals, round-robin Cup Qualifiers

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Bruins vs. Capitals

Noon ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, TVAS, NBCSWA, NESN

Boston 0-2-0, Washington 0-1-1

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins will determine the third and fourth seeds in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play their final Stanley Cup Qualifiers round-robin game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Sunday.

The winner will be the No. 3 seed and face the New York Islanders, the No. 6 seed, in a best-of-7 series in the Eastern Conference First Round. As the No. 4 seed, the loser will play the Carolina Hurricanes, the No. 5 seed.

The Capitals scored three goals in their first two round-robin games in Toronto, the East hub city. They lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday before losing 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Boston, which won the Presidents’ Trophy after finishing with the best record in the NHL this season (44-14-12, .714 points percentage), has also scored three goals in its two games.

Here are 3 keys for the round-robin game:

 

1. Ovechkin or Pastrnak getting on the board

After tying for the NHL lead in goals with 48 during the regular season, Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Bruins forward David Pastrnak each has been held without a point in two games. Pastrnak did not go three straight games without a point in the regular season; Ovechkin had three stretches of at least three without a point.

“We need to get our game headed in the right direction,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “Whoever that involves in our lineup, we’ll see who’s ready come game time and we’ll go from there. But we have to get more from our players.”

 

2. Bruins power play against Capitals penalty kill 

Boston has not scored on seven power plays through two games and was 0-for-4 in a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday. In the regular season, it ranked second in the NHL (25.2 percent).

“I thought there were some good looks there [against the Lightning],” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Things were clicking better. Now it’s just getting the final touches on finishing those plays.”

Washington’s penalty kill has not allowed a goal in two games. The Capitals did not commit a penalty against the Lightning before killing each of the Flyers’ six power plays. 

 

3. Helping Rask 

After being unfit to play against in a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 2, Tuukka Rask made 32 saves against Tampa Bay with 11 coming in the second period to keep the Lightning from extending a 2-0 lead. Boston tied it 2-2 1:47 into the third but was outshot 16-9 that period, and Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson scored the deciding goal with 1:27 remaining.

“I feel like in the zone, we’re in the right positions,” Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo said. “Those puck possession plays have come back to bite us a little bit. I think that’s just catching up with being off for four months.”

 

Bruins projected lineup 

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciOndrej Kase

Nick RitchieCharlie CoyleAnders Bjork

Joakim NordstromSean KuralyChris Wagner

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Connor CliftonJeremy Lauzon

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Maxime Lagace, Dan Vladar, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk 

Unfit to play: None

 

Capitals projected lineup 

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson 

Jakub VranaNicklas BackstromT.J. Oshie

Carl HagelinTravis BoydIlya Kovalchuk

Richard PanikNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Brenden DillonDmitry Orlov

Michal KempnyRadko Gudas

Jonas SiegenthalerNick Jensen

Braden Holtby

Vitek Vanecek 

Scratched: Lars Eller, Philippe Maillet, Beck Malenstyn, Connor McMichael, Brian Pinho, Daniel Sprong, Alexander Alexeyev, Martin Fehervary, Tyler Lewington, Pheonix Copley

Unfit to play: John Carlson 

 

Status report 

Kase will enter the lineup at second-line right wing after being scratched the first two games, Cassidy said. He replaces Kuhlman. … Backstrom did not participate when the Capitals last practiced Friday, Reirden said. … Carlson did practice with Washington after missing the first two round-robin games. 

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