NHL Hockey: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals Preview, Odds and Prediction - 05/23/2021

by Big Al Staff

NHL Sunday USA Network Preview: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals.

Boston looks to close out their seven-game series with Washington on Sunday at 7 PM ET on the USA Network. The Bruins took a 3-1 lead in this series with their 4-1 road victory on Friday.

Brad Marchand opened the scoring for Boston with a power-play goal eight minutes into the second period. David Pastrnak added a power-play goal 29 seconds into the third period. Charlie Coyle scored the team’s third goal 34 seconds later to break the game wide open for the Bruins. Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board with a power-play goal of his own at the 4:54 mark of the final period. Matt Grzelcyk scored the final play on a power play at 14:50. Boston converted in three of their five power-play opportunities. 

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced to earn his 54th career victory in the postseason. After some shaky moments in this series, Rask has a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage after the first four games. 

Charlie McAvoy had three assists in the win. He leads the Bruins with five points from five assists in the postseason. Pastrnak is second on the team with four points including a goal. Marchand’s three playoff goals are tops on the team. 

Ilya Samsonov made 33 saves for Washington. He made 40 saves in the third game of this series, but he made a mistake that cost his team that game in overtime. Samsonov has posted a 2.67 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage since returning from COVID quarantine to play the third and fourth games. Craig Anderson started the second game after coming into relief for Vitek Vanecek in the first period of the opening after he incurred a lower-body injury. Vanecek is questionable for this game. 

Ovechkin’s power-play goal was his 71st playoff goal in his career. He leads the Capitals with four points in this series from two goals and two assists. T.J. Oshie and Garnett Hathaway both have three points.

Game 4 was the first time in this series that the game did not go into overtime. Washington took the opening game, 3-2. Boston won game two by a 4-3 score before winning the third game in double overtime, 3-2.

The Capitals got centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller back on the ice on Friday after both players did not play in Game 3. Yet Washington endured a stretch lasting 18:40 minutes in Game 4 where they failed to muster a shot on goal. The Caps have converted on just three of their 17 power-play opportunities in this series. 

Washington tied for first place in the East Division with Pittsburgh but settled for the second seed given tie-breakers. The Capitals had 77 points in the regular season, coming from a 36-15-5 record under first-year head coach Peter Laviolette. Led by Ovechkin and a core group of veterans who led the franchise to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018, the hope is the pieces are in place to make another deep postseason run. 

Boston finished in third place in the East Division with a 33-16-7 record. Bruce Cassidy's team finished four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. The Bruins ran away with the President’s Trophy last year, but they lost their mojo after the stoppage of play in March. They lost all three of their round-robin games in the bubble to determine playoff seeding before losing to Tampa Bay in the second round.

BookMaker lists Boston as a -136 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.

Prediction:  Washington Capitals 4 Boston Bruins 2

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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