Nicklas Backstrom scored in the third period after missing a game, helping the Washington Capitals win their 14th straight over the Bruins with a 4-2 victory Thursday night at TD Garden.
Backstrom, who sat out Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia with an illness, glided in to the Bruins’ zone and ripped a left-circle wrister past Jaroslav Halak for the go-ahead goal with 14:14 remaining.
Alexander Ovechkin netted his NHL-leading 31st and 32nd goals of the season, the latter a game-sealing empty-netter with 1:35 to go, and also had the highlight hit of the game when he sent Zdeno Chara flipping head over heels into the Capitals’ bench on a shove late in the first period.
The home crowd gasped, but the Bruins captain tumbled back onto the ice quickly and rejoined the play.
Jakub Vrana also had a goal for the Capitals, whose streak against the Bruins dates to March 29, 2014.
Ryan Donato and David Krejci had the Bruins’ goals, but each were immediately answered within 90 seconds by the Stanley Cup champs. Regardless, it was a step forward from the season-opening 7-0 blowout hung on Boston at Washington on Oct. 3.
Braden Holtby made 39 saves, improving to 12-0-0 against Boston during the Capitals’ streak, and 16-2 in his career against the Bruins.
Halak had 18 saves for the B’s, which had their five-game win streak snapped.
Washington led 1-0 after the first period despite being outshot 17-5. T.J. Oshie grabbed a giveaway by the Bruins and flipped the puck from the Capitals’ end to a wide-open Vrana, who beat Halak with 13:22 to play.
Tensions boiled over in the second when Washington’s Lars Eller and Boston’s Brad Marchand got tangled up during a play. Eller, whose celebration in front of the Boston bench after scoring the Capitals’ seventh goal in the opener drew postgame criticism from Marchand, was sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Donato tied it at 1 with 5:49 to play in the second. But, Ovechkin quieted the TD Garden crowd 39 seconds later when he converted after a feed from behind the net to make it 2-1.
Krejci ripped the tying power-play goal past Holtby from the right circle with 15:23 remaining in the third.
Charlie McAvoy missed his seventh straight game with a foot infection. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice and could return for Saturday’s game against Toronto.