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Vrana’s shootout goal lifts Capitals to win in Chara’s return to Boston

Vitek Vanecek was sensational against the Bruins, stopping 18 of 19 shots and all three shootout attempts to lead Washington to a 2-1 win in Zdeno Chara's return to Boston.

Zdeno Chara made his return to Boston as an opposing player on Wednesday night and it was very fitting that he and the Washington Capitals put together a defensive clinic in a 2-1 shootout win over the Bruins.

For 14 years Chara was the focal point of the Bruins’ defense and helped them become one of the fiercest defensive teams in the league.

On Wednesday, the Bruins were on the other side of that as he was the one helping to shut down their offense

Washington limited the Bruins to a season-low 19 shots on goal through regulation and overtime in what was probably the Capitals’ best, most complete defensive effort of the season. They were so dominant early on that they did not allow Boston to get its first shot on goal until there were under five minutes to play in the first period.

The only blemish on Washington’s night defensively was a giveaway in the second period that resulted in David Pastrnak’s 10th goal of the season to open the scoring.

[Related: McKenzie talks Ovechkin contract; Capitals, Bruins trade deadline plans]

The lead would be short-lived as Washington’s Lars Eller tied the game just a few minutes later on a net-front scramble.

That would be the extend of the offense for the night as both teams played a grind-it-out, physical slugfest that also featured some stellar goaltending from Vitek Vanecek and Tuukka Rask.

What this game lacked in offense it more than made up for in chippiness, especially as it related to Boston’s Trent Frederic and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. They went at each other all night, with Frederic trying to fight Ovechkin at one point in the second period. It did not work.

Later in the game they were both sent off for matching minor penalties following a sequence that saw Frederic deliver a couple of cross-checks to Ovechkin, and Ovechkin respond by spearing Frederic between the legs.

Jakub Vrana scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Capitals the extra point in the standings.

The win is the Capitals’ fourth in a row and improves them to 7-1-1 over their most recent nine games. They remain in first place in the East Division.

The Bruins, meanwhile, have won just two of their past seven games.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.