Alex Ovechkin wins it in his return: 6 reasons the Capitals beat the Bruins

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Ovi wins it in his return: 6 reasons the Caps beat Boston originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

In a battle between the top two teams in the East Division, the Capitals came out on top Saturday in a 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins.

Alex Ovechkin returned after spending four games on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol-related absence list and tallied an assist in regulation, but was otherwise quiet. He was not quiet in overtime as it took him just 28 seconds to fire a bullet past Tuukka Rask for the win.

Here are six reasons why Washington won.

Screens

Rask really struggled to track the puck through traffic. The Caps scored three goals from distance and all three came through some traffic. The Caps did a decent job getting in Rask's face, but Washington's night seemed more about Rask's struggles than it was the Caps putting him off his game and that showed, as the Caps had three goals on 17 shots through just two periods.

Vanecek overcomes early flurry

Vitek Vanecek had another impressive performance in net with 40 saves on 43 shots. But it was what he did in the first period that was critical.

Boston was firing the puck from everywhere to start the game and tallied 19 shots on goal in the first period alone. A weird bounce off the boards led to Vanecek having to scramble to keep the puck out. He had skated out of the net in anticipation of the puck wheeling around the boards. Instead, a weird bounce sent the puck right in front of the net. Vanecek scrambled and managed to make a diving save on David Krejci who looked like he had an empty net to shoot on.

Just a few seconds later, Vanecek somehow managed to get the pads down to deny Brad Marchand in the slot from sneaking a shot through the 5-hole. It was a pretty remarkable save.

Considering how dominant the Bruins looked, the fact that Washington was able to escape from that early flurry really changed the course of the game, as did what happened next.

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Backstrom's first-period tally

Not only were the Bruins unable to cash-in on a dominant start to the game, but they actually went to the locker room down 1-0 thanks to Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom was able to win a puck battle in the neutral zone and carry it past the blue line. With Charlie McAvoy covering Backstrom 1-on-1, Backstrom drifted to the center. That drew McAvoy in front of Rask. Using him as a screen, Backstrom fired a laser to beat Rask glove-side. Rask looked a little awkward with the glove as the shot caught him a bit by surprise thanks to that little screen.

More offense from the defense

With Justin Schultz out, you may think the defense would not play as significant a role offensively considering how hot he has been of late. You would be wrong. Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his first goal with the Capitals in the second period to extend Washington's lead to 2.

The shot came from the boards near the blue line and looked innocent enough, but it went through traffic and Rask just lost the puck. The puck may have changed direction slightly, but again Rask seemed late to react to the shot.

Panik screen

Washington's third goal was set up by a quick screen from Richard Panik so it was only fitting that he would get credit for the goal.

Mike Sgarbossa won an offensive zone draw to Ovechkin. His pass was blocked, but went right to Wilson who had a lane to the high slot. He fired a wrister that beat Rask thanks to Panik who had gotten right in Rask's face after the draw.

It looked originally like the goal was Wilson's fifth of the season, but it was given to Panik as the puck deflected in off of him.

Ovechkin wins it 28 seconds into OT

Welcome back, Ovechkin. Ovechkin was quiet for most of the game, but came up big when the Caps needed him the most taking just 28 seconds to fire a blistering shot past Rask for the victory.

The goal was the 708th of Ovechkin's career, tying him with Mike Gartner for the seventh-most goals all-time.