Opening Up! Washington Capitals Vs. Boston Bruins – Looking Back At Their Past Opening Night Matchups

Photo: Nick Wass/Associated Press

It’s finally here. Opening night for the 2022-23 NHL season is upon us, with the Boston Bruins coming into DC to play the Capitals on Wednesday night. This opening day meeting will be the fourth time the teams have met on opening night.

The first two matchups took place in Boston while the third matchup took place in Washington, DC. Here is a recap of the previous opening night games between the Capitals and the Bruins.

October 8, 1987 – Boston Garden

Based on their performances from the previous season, the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals were regarded as an even matchup going into the 1987 season opener. The Caps finished in second place in the Patrick Division for the 1986-87 season, with a record of 38-32-10. Meanwhile, the Bruins finished in third place in the Adams Division, having gone 39-34-10.

The Capitals wasted no time getting off to a lead when Mike Gartner scored a minute into the contest. Boston tied it up on a Will Plett power-play goal late in the first period. The first period featured numerous minor penalties and also a fight between Washington’s Ed Kastelic and Boston’s Jay Miller.

The second period was another one where the teams traded goals. Bob Sweeney of Boston scored early in the second period while Greg Smith of Washington tied the score.

Bob Sweeney scored again midway through the third period to give the Bruins the lead again. Mike Gartner tied the game at 3-3 at 12:55. Unfortunately for the Caps, Cam Neely scored the game-winner for Boston with just over two minutes to play. Boston won the game 4-3.

Box Score of Game From Hockey Reference

First Period Video

Second Period Video

Third Period video

October 1, 2009 – Boston Garden

Nearly 32 years later, the Capitals and Bruins met again on opening night in Boston. The matchup this time was a comparative marquee matchup in that during the 2008-09 season, the Bruins and the Caps posted the best and second-best records in the Eastern Conference, but both were eliminated in the playoffs in the second round.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

In the 2009 opener, the Caps started the scoring on a late first-period power play when Brooks Laich scored on a backdoor feed from Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin had the other assist. The Caps led 1-0.

The Caps increased their lead to 2-0 when Alex Ovechkin scored, getting assists from Alexander Semin and Backstrom.

Brooks Laich scored again early in the third period on a power play, increasing the Caps’ lead to 3-0. Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game less than two minutes later, assisted by defenseman Tom Poti and Laich. The Bruins broke the shutout about eight minutes into the period. The score was now 4-1, which held up as the final score.

Game Highlights

Box Score of Game From Hockey Reference
Retro Recap: Washington Capitals vs Boston Bruins – October 1, 2009

October 3, 2018 – Capital One Arena

The opening night matchup between the Bruins and the Capitals was the first opener to be played in Washington, DC. It was also the night the Capitals raised their Stanley Cup banner to the rafters in honor of winning the Stanley Cup the prior season.

Tom Wilson was absent from the Caps’ lineup due to getting a 20-game suspension for a hit that caused injury in their last preseason game. Travis Boyd and Michal Kempny both also missed the game, due to being on injured reserve. They also had a new head coach,  Todd Reirden, who was their Associate Head Coach the prior season.

The Caps got off to a great start when T.J. Oshie scored the game’s first goal at 24 seconds with Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen getting the assists. The assist from Backstrom was the 800th of his career.

Just over a minute later, the Caps went on the power play, and, almost immediately, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored, putting the Caps up 2-0.

The Caps continued to pour it on Boston, especially during the second period when they scored four goals. Ovechkin scored a power-play goal at 4:17. Nearly two minutes later, Nic Dowd, who signed with the team as a free agent in the off-season, scored. The Caps scored two more power-play goals that period, one by Evgeny Kuznetsov and another by John Carlson. The Caps led 6-0.

Lars Eller scored the Caps’ seventh goal just past the midpoint of the third period, increasing the Caps score to 7-0, which was the final score. The third period was also marked by a fight between Eller and Brad Marchand, who earned additional penalties — an instigator penalty and a misconduct penalty.

Photo: Nick Wass/Associated Press

Box Score of Game From Hockey Reference
Capitals Blast The Bruins 7-0 in Season-Opener
Capitals’ Stars Dominate in Home Opener
Capitals Milestones Achieved on Opening Day 2018-19

Wednesday’s opener for the 2022-23 season will be the fourth opening night matchup between the Capitals and the Bruins and the second consecutive opener in Washington, DC.

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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