WASHINGTON (AP) — Lars Eller made the best of his move back to center, scoring the go-ahead goal and assisting on another to help the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 Sunday and extend their winning streak to three.
Eller was only playing center — his natural position — because Nicklas Backstrom was scratched for what the team called "body maintenance." He'd played the past two on left wing after the emergence of Connor McMichael in the middle.
With Eller as an important part of the rotation, Washington's penalty kill was a perfect 4 of 4 against Boston's power play. Eller also assisted on Tom Wilson's 23rd goal of the season, a new career high for the big winger who has scored four times in six games and reached 50 points for the first time.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 45th goal of the season and 775th of his NHL career into an empty net with 1.7 seconds left to seal it. The goal was his ninth empty-netter of the season.
John Carlson also scored his third goal in as many games and Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves for Washington, which bounced back from allowing two goals a minute apart. After beating the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the Capitals are inching closer to their biggest rivals and could soon pass them for third in the Metropolitan Division — which would mean avoiding the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Panthers in the first round.
Boston, which is also jockeying for playoff positioning in the East, lost defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to an upper-body injury in the first period. He attempted to hit Washington's Garnet Hathaway about eight minutes into the game and appeared to injure his left arm or shoulder.
The banged-up Bruins were already playing without top right winger David Pastrnak and trade deadline acquisition Hampus Lindholm because of injuries. They got goals from Curtis Lazar and Erik Haula and a handful of highlight-reel saves from Linus Ullmark among his 27, but the continuation of power-play woes meant the end of their two-game winning streak.
Boston finished its four-game road trip 0 of 16 on the power play.
NOTES: Conor Sheary returned to Washington's lineup after a one-game absence because of illness. ... Josh Brown replaced Connor Clifton on defense for Boston. ... The Capitals held a moment of silence for former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was killed Saturday in an auto accident.
Bruins: Open a three-game homestand Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues in a rematch of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
Capitals: Host the rival Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
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