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Bruins beat the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout in a potential first-round playoff preview

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Hampus Lindholm watched helplessly from the penalty box as his Boston Bruins teammates killed off his four-minute double minor for high sticking in overtime and marveled at how they got the job done from goaltender Jeremy Swayman on out.

They were just paying Lindholm back.

Lindholm scored a goal at one end, prevented one at the other and Boston beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night in a potential first-round playoff preview. The defenseman from Sweden got just his second goal of the season but arguably more importantly dived in the crease to stop the puck from going in the net in the opening minute.

“I owe him a couple Swedish fikas,” Swayman said, referring to the Scandinavian country’s popular coffee break pastry. “I was pretty fired up when that happened, and it obviously saved a goal and that’s two points.”

Kevin Shattenkirk scored the shootout winner, rookie John Beecher had a goal and Swayman made 18 saves in regulation and overtime for the Bruins, who were playing for the first time since clinching their eighth consecutive postseason appearance.

With the victory after surviving the lengthy penalty kill, they leapfrogged the Florida Panthers to move back into first place in the Atlantic Division and kept pace with the New York Rangers for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

“We had our moments there where we losing a lot of these games a couple months ago going into overtimes and either losing there or losing in shootouts,” said Shattenkirk, who has been in and out of the lineup and was chosen by goaltending coach Bob Essensa to go fifth in the shootout. “It’s great to see us turn the corner and, obviously, taking strides there.”

The Capitals hope to join Boston in the playoffs, but that’ll depend on how they play their final eight games and what happens with Detroit and Philadelphia, the other teams vying for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference. By picking up a point, they moved ahead of the Flyers, who lost Saturday night, for third place in the Metropolitan Division because they’ve played fewer games and went two up on the Red Wings, who lost in a shootout at Florida earlier Saturday.

“We’re just really mission-focused right now instead of destination-focused right now,” said goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced. “We’re worrying about the product that we’re putting on the ice. The other teams, they have to worry about themselves. We’re going to worry about ourselves in here.”

John Carlson became just the ninth defenseman to score a goal in his 1,000th NHL game, Michael Sgarbossa also had a goal, validating coach Spencer Carbery’s decision to keep him in the lineup when Sonny Milano returned from an injury absence.

“It would’ve been nice to win, but it showed a lot of guts from us tonight,” Carlson said. “You bear down in every game, in every situation, and we showed some poise. It wasn’t perfect tonight, but we showed some poise coming back and battling in it until the end and giving ourselves a chance to win.”

But Lindgren was hardly to blame for the Caps’ second consecutive loss, as the opportunistic Bruins took advantage of turnovers and other mistakes and cashed in with goals. They bounced back from a deflating 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay, blocking 29 shots against the Capitals to reach 101 points on the season.

“This win definitely goes to my D core blocking shots all night,” Swayman said.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Visit Nashville on Tuesday night.

Capitals: Visit Buffalo on Tuesday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer

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