WASHINGTON — Jake DeBrusk wiped the slate clean over the summer.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old Bruins winger looking for a hard reset after his career-low five-goal output of last season, scored the team’s first goal, then added the winning shootout strike in a preseason-opening 3-2 victory over the Capitals.
DeBrusk was opportunistic, arriving at the near post for a follow-up chip over Pheonix Copley after defenseman Connor Clifton paid the price by pinching and taking a beating in front. In extras, he roofed a snapshot over Vitek Vanecek.
“I just want to play hockey and put the puck in the net,” DeBrusk said after Saturday’s practice.
Step one of that mission: accomplished.
“I pretty much forgot my whole career,” DeBrusk said. “I’m clean-slating it. I think it’s a pivotal point in my career as well, so just trying to do the little things every day, take it day by day, and not look too far in advance or at anything in the past.”
Observations from the game:
▪ Erik Haula said he uses a stick that’s stiffer than many forwards — a 95 flex — because it helps him win puck battles and faceoffs. His tool did its job 1:09 into the second. The new Bruin, who skated a line with DeBrusk and Jesper Froden, put the Bruins up, 2-1,
winning a faceoff against rookie Hendrix Lapierre and tipping a point shot off the post and over Copley’s glove. It was a well-executed play: win the draw back, Jakub Zboril and John Moore went D-to-D, and Moore’s shot was right on Haula’s stick.
Haula, likely the Bruins’ third-line center, won 71 percent of his faceoffs (17 for 24) and ripped a shootout goal over the glove. No deke, just fire.
▪ Moore, who saved a goal in the third with a sharp stick at the open side of the crease, played 21:22 and put up a pair of assists, hits, and blocks in his first game since Feb. 26 (hip surgery). He has been limited to 29 games over the last two seasons because of hip and shoulder injuries.
▪ Jeremy Swayman looks just like he did last year. He stopped 18 of 19 shots in 30:11 of work before giving way to Troy Grosenick. He did his best work on the Bruins’ three first-period penalty kills, making two sprawling saves (Dmitry Orlov, Lars Eller) and stopping pucks through traffic.
He also made a breakaway pad stop on Conor Sheary, who tried to go five-hole after beating Jack Ahcan to a loose puck on a power play. No leaks from the Alaskan, either, when the Capitals were jamming in the crease.
Grosenick, who will compete with Kyle Keyser in Providence, made a killer pad stop on Joe Snively late in the second, but couldn’t find a backhand from the slot on Garrett Pilon’s third-period tying goal. He stopped 11 of 12 in regulation.
▪ As he showed at the Buffalo rookie tournament, Fabian Lysell has the kind of speed that can make defenses sweat. The Bruins had to be encouraged by the 18-year-old Swede, who continued to show no fear in attacking defensemen off the rush. He mixed it up a little, too, throwing an extra shove at Sheary in front and losing his helmet in the ensuing scrum. In the shootout, he couldn’t elevate his bid.
▪ The Bruins lost center Steven Fogarty, a 28-year-old AHL veteran, after Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath clipped him in the head with an elbow 35 seconds into the third. Fogarty, who made several intelligent plays but did not factor in the scoring, did not return. McIlrath took a game misconduct.
▪ Karson Kuhlman, trying to make an impression in a crowded room of right wings, had a jumpy start. He misfired on a straightforward outlet and then sent a backhand drop pass to no one during a first-period rush. He forced a pass to the middle after using his jets to keep a play alive. He was a factor on the forecheck on DeBrusk’s goal, working hard down low.
▪ The Urho Vaakanainen-Tyler Lewington pair had a rough outing. Each took an undisciplined penalty. Vaakanainen looked timid with the puck, lacking urgency to his game. Lewington (6-2, 200) couldn’t handle ex-Yale forward Snively (5-9, 174) in the slot on a first-period goal against.
▪ Strong games for Jakub Lauko and Oskar Steen, aggressive wingers with pace who look like strong depth for the Bruins. Lauko, who was flattened by Orlov on one third-period rush, tried a David Pastrnak-like move in overtime, going between his legs as he turned a defender. He lost the handle.