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PREVIEW: East-leading Washington Capitals look to sweep set with Boston Bruins

Feb 25, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) celebrates with Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) after their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) celebrates with Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) after their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals have ascended to the top of the East Division on the strength of a season-high four-game winning streak.

The Capitals look to continue their good fortune on Friday when they conclude their two-game set against the host Boston Bruins.

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Washington improved to 9-1-0 in Boston dating back to the 2014-15 season and 5-0-1 during its current six-game point streak after posting a 2-1 shootout victory on Wednesday. The contest marked the return to Boston for veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara, who served as the Bruins captain for 14 seasons before he signed with the Capitals during the offseason.

Chara likely is proud of his team’s defense, as it has yielded just seven goals during its winning streak and limited high-octane Boston to 19 shots on net on Wednesday.

“For me, it’s not just (Wednesday),” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think that we’ve been doing the right things defensively, and I think the guys just are feeling a little bit more comfortable with what we’re doing.”

What makes the Capitals’ performance on Wednesday all the more impressive is they surrendered eight goals on 76 shots in a two-game set against the Bruins on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.

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“We had good sticks; we were blocking shots; we were doing the little things that are going to make us successful in playoff hockey,” defenseman Brenden Dillon said. “It’s a good, for sure, confidence booster for us to see the improvement (against) those first few games we played against (them) too.”

Boston’s confidence may have taken a hit after falling for the fifth time in seven games (2-4-1).

“They compete hard; they’ve got a lot of guys that are physical; they’re a big team,” Brad Marchand said. “And we have to play that same way to compete with all those teams and to be the best in our division. … It was a playoff-type game, got a little more physical as the game went on. But that’s what we’ve got to expect every night.”

David Pastrnak converted a 2-on-1 rush with Marchand to open the scoring 1:19 into the third period. Pastrnak’s 10th goal of the season pulled him into a tie for the team lead with Marchand, who holds club-high totals in assists (14) and points (24).

Pastrnak (three goals, one assist) and Marchand (two goals, two assists) each have four points in three meetings with Washington this season. Boston, however, has just a 1-0-2 record to show for it.

Tuukka Rask was denied in his bid for his 300th career win despite turning aside 27 of 28 shots on Wednesday. He is 0-0-2 against the Capitals this season and 3-11-7 in 22 career appearances (20 starts) versus the club.

Washington’s Lars Eller forged a tie on Wednesday by scoring 6:14 into the third period. He has three goals and two assists during his four-game point streak.

Vitek Vanecek made 18 saves on Wednesday to notch his 10th win, the most among rookie goaltenders in the NHL. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in three meetings with Boston.

–Field Level Media

Sports Deaths in 2021

Howard Schnellenberger (Miami Hurricanes Head Coach)

Miami, FL – Coach Howard Schnellenberger of the University of Miami Hurricanes during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions in November 1981 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Schnellenberger died on March 27th, 2021. He was 87.

Elgin Baylor (Los Angeles Lakers)

New York, NY — Los Angeles Lakers forward Elgin Baylor (22) shoots against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor died of natural causes on March 22, 2021. He was 86.

'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler (Boxer)

Las Vegas, NV – John Mugabi and Marvin Hagler fight for the WBA, WBC, and IBF Middleweight titles on March 10, 1986 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hagler won the fight with an 11th round knockout. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Hagler died unexpectedly on March 13. He was 66.

Rheal Cormier (MLB Pitcher)

San Francisco, CA – Pitcher Rheal Cormier #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Pac Bell Park on August 9, 2003 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won 8-6. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Cormier died on March 8th. He was 53.

Mark Pavelich (1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team)

Lake Placid, NY – The USA Team celebrates their 4-3 victory over Russia in the semi-final of the Ice Hockey event at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, USA. The game was dubbed “The Miracle on Ice”. The USA went on to win the gold medal by defeat. (Getty Images)

Pavelich died on March 5th. He was 63.

Joe Altobelli (MLB Manager)

Los Angeles, CA – San Francisco Giants manager Joe Altobelli argues with an umpire during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports

Altobelli died on March 3rd. He was 88.

Irv Cross (Broadcaster/NFL Defensive Back)

Pasadena, CA, USA – CBS broadcaster Irv Cross (left) interviews NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cross died on February 28th. He was 81.

Vincent Jackson (NFL Wide Receiver)

Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) is introduced as he runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium on September 13, 2015. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson died on February 15th. He was 38.

Marty Schottenheimer (NFL Head Coach)

St. Louis, MO – Kansas City Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer on the sidelines against the New York Jets at Busch Stadium during the 1991 preseason. Credit: Herb Weitman-USA TODAY NETWORK

Schottenheimer died on February 8th. He was 77.

Pedro Gomez (MLB Reporter)

MESA, AZ – Perdo Gomez of ESPN stands in the stands prior to the game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants at Hohokam Stadium on March 3, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Gomez died on February 7th. He was 58.

Leon Spinks (Boxer)

Heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, works out at the Fifth Street Gym in Miami on Jan. 13, 1987. (photo by Tim Chapman)

Spinks died on February 5th. He was 67.

John Chaney (Temple Owls)

LANDOVER, MD – Head coach John Chaney of the Temple Owls looks on from the bench against the Georgetown Hoyas during an NCAA College basketball game circa 1995 at the US Airways Arena in Landover, Maryland. Chaney coached at Temple from 1982-2006. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Chaney died on January 29th. He was 89.

George Armstrong (Toronto Maple Leafs)

TORONTO, ON – Former Leafs Captain George Armstrong waves to the crowd beside (L-R) Red Kelly and David Keon during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Leafs 64′ Stancley Cup before action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre February 8, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Armstrong died on January 24th. He was 90.

Hawthorne Wingo (New York Knicks)

Atlanta, GA – New York Knicks forward Hawthorne Wingo (43) in action against the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Wingo died on January 23rd. He was 73.

Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves)

Atlanta, GA, – Atlanta Braves outfielder Hank Aaron (44) celebrates after breaking the all-time career home run record previously held by Babe Ruth at Fulton County Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron died on January 22nd. He was 86.

Ted Thompson (Green Bay Packers)

Arlington, TX – Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy (left) and general manager Ted Thompson after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson died on January 20th. He was 68.

Don Sutton (MLB Pitcher)

PITTSBURGH, PA – Pitcher Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1977 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Sutton died on January 18th. He was 75.

Tommy Lasorda (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Dodgers former manager Tommy Lasorda in attendance as the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles CA. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Copyright u00a9 2007 Gary A. Vasquez

Lasorda died January 7th. He was 93.

John Muckler (Edmonton Oilers)

BOSTON, MA – Glen Sather head coach and assistant coach John Muckler of the Edmonton Oilers direct action from behind bench against the Boston Bruins at Boston Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Muckler died on January 4th. He was 86.

Paul Westphal (NBA Head Coach)

PHOENIX, AZ – As part of their 50th season celebration the Phoenix Suns honor former coach Paul Westphal before the game against the Houston Rockets on January 12, 2018 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Westphal died on January 2nd. He was 70.

Floyd Little (Denver Broncos)

CINCINNATI, OH – Running back Floyd Little #44 of the Denver Broncos runs upfield during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Riverfront Stadium on October 8, 1972 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Broncos 21-10. (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images)

Little died on January 1st. He was 78.

Howard Schnellenberger (Miami Hurricanes Head Coach)

Miami, FL – Coach Howard Schnellenberger of the University of Miami Hurricanes during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions in November 1981 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Schnellenberger died on March 27th, 2021. He was 87.