WASHINGTON – The Boston Bruins needed to win this game badly. They didn’t, but still were able to make their trip worthwhile.

Despite a 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, Boston gained a point and moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with 85 points. Montreal is sixth with 86 points, Philadelphia is in eighth place with 84 points, and the New York Rangers are ninth with 82, but with one more game remaining than the other contenders.

The Capitals got the win 44 seconds into overtime on Brooks Laich’s power-play goal. The goal came 20 seconds after Dennis Wideman was called for high-sticking, giving the Capitals a four-on-three advantage.

The Bruins, who return to Washington for the regular-season finale on Sunday, tried to put a positive spin on the loss.

“That was a good point. That was a good effort to get a point, but when you have an effort like that, you always hope to get a deuce out of it,” Wideman said.

Laich beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who finished with 27 saves. It was his 25th goal of the season.

Alex Ovechkin finished with two assists for the Capitals, who have already clinched home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

“They don’t give us lots of chances to score goals,” Ovechkin said.

Ovechkin is tied for second in the league with 46 goals but has just four in his last 18 games.

Nicklas Backstrom, who also assisted on the other two Washington goals, gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 7:36 of the first period with his 31st goal. He took a pass from Ovechkin, and his slap shot trickled past Rask. The game was delayed for five minutes while the goal was being reviewed.

“I didn’t think it was in, actually, because I couldn’t see,” Backstrom said. “They called a goal. I guess it was in.”

With 1.6 seconds left in the period, the Bruins tied the score when Wideman’s shot from the left point beat a screened Jose Theodore. It was Wideman’s fifth goal of the season.

Boston grabbed a 2-1 lead when Patrice Bergeron took a pass from Milan Lucic and deked Theodore out of position before guiding the puck into the net at 7:55 of the second period. It was Bergeron’s 19th of the season.

Theodore stopped 28 shots.

Mike Knuble scored his 27th goal when he tapped the puck past Rask during a scramble at 19:31 of the second. This goal was also reviewed, but the call stood.

 

BLUES 2, BLUE JACKETS 1: Erik Johnson scored on a power play 3:59 into overtime, and St. Louis kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a victory over visiting Columbus.

The Blues are four points behind Colorado for the final Western Conference playoff spot with three games left.

NOTES

SABRES: Buffalo could play the final week of the regular season without top-line forwards Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly.

Coach Lindy Ruff said he didn’t know whether either will be healthy enough to play before the Stanley Cup playoffs open next week.

“They’re both doing a lot better,” Ruff said. “I’m optimistic we’ll get them back on the ice maybe later in the week. Whether they’ll be able to play or not, I don’t know.”

Vanek has missed four games with a lower body injury. Connolly, the team’s leading scorer, has missed five games with an injured foot.

Gritty third-line forward Patrick Kaleta resumed skating a week after having surgery to repair a thumb injury, but he’s still not cleared for contact.