Bruins, Capitals set for showdown in Boston

The Eastern Conference's division leaders will face off with weary legs Saturday night as the Boston Bruins host the Washington Capitals for the first time this season.

The Bruins, atop the Atlantic Division with 28 points, and the Capitals, leading the Metropolitan and the entire league with 32, will each play the second end of a back-to-back. Boston defeated the host Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Friday to snap a four-game losing streak (two by shootout), while Washington fell 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens at home, its first regulation loss since Oct. 14.

The Bruins and Capitals will play two more times during the regular season next month, though they're each expected to vie for top playoff seeding in the East. Boston won the two teams' last meeting in February to snap a 14-game losing streak to Washington.

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The Bruins started the season hot before their four-game skid (0-2-2) began against the Canadiens on Nov. 5. Boston reached rock bottom Tuesday when it blew a 4-0 lead in the third period in a 5-4 shootout defeat to the Florida Panthers, but responded three nights later in scoring three in the third to beat Toronto.

Brad Marchand had two of those goals to run his season total to 13. He, along with teammate David Pastrnak and his league-leading 16 goals, form one of the more potent scoring duos across the league.

"I think when you start getting caught up in stats, it just starts to go downhill," Marchand said. "I think the biggest thing with our group is we try to go game-to-game and focus more on the process. If we consistently play well every night, then good things are going to happen."

The Capitals, meanwhile, are the most potent offense as a whole, their 79 goals are 10 more than any other club has. Washington has scored at least five in a game eight times already this season.

However, the tables were turned on the Capitals when Montreal scored four in the second period to seize the momentum in Friday's rout. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied in the third, but it was too little, too late.

"I think they just had momentum on their side," said Ovechkin, whose goal on the power play was his 14th. "After the first goal, they scored another one, and we just didn't execute the play, we made lots of mistakes. It was not our best period. We didn't play our game at all."

With Ilya Samsonov in net against the Canadiens, the Capitals will turn back to regular starter Braden Holtby, who has a 9-1-3 record despite a 3.06 goals-against average.

The Bruins will start backup netminder Jaroslav Halak, who last played in a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 10. Halak (4-1-2, 2.67 GAA) has allowed at least four goals in three of his last four games.

Boston has been hampered by injuries of late, defenseman Torey Krug (upper body) and forwards Jake DeBrusk (lower body) and David Backes (upper body) each still with uncertain timetables. Forward Brett Ritchie (upper body) skated in a non-contact jersey at practice this week.

Forwards Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin each missed Friday's game for Washington with upper-body injuries.

--Field Level Media

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