BOSTON — Nicklas Backstrom scored in the third period after missing a game, helping the Washington Capitals win their 14th straight over the Boston Bruins with a 4-2 victory Thursday night.

Backstrom, who sat out Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia with an illness, glided in to the Bruins’ zone and ripped a left-circle wrister past Jaroslav Halak for the go-ahead goal with 14:14 remaining.

Alexander Ovechkin netted his NHL-leading 31st and 32nd goals of the season, and also had the highlight hit of the game when he sent Zdeno Chara – the NHL’s tallest player ever at 6-foot-9 – flipping head over heels into the Capitals’ bench on a shove late in the first period.

The TD Garden crowd gasped, but play continued and there was no immediate on-ice retaliation. The Bruins captain tumbled back onto the ice quickly and rejoined the play.

Jakub Vrana also had a goal for the Capitals, whose streak against the Bruins dates to March 29, 2014.

Ryan Donato and David Krejci each had goals for Boston. The Bruins suffered a season-opening 7-0 blowout loss at Washington on Oct. 3 when the Capitals celebrated last season’s Stanley Cup title.

Braden Holtby made 39 saves, improving to 12-0-0 against Boston during the Capitals’ streak, and 16-2 in his career against the Bruins.

Halak had 18 saves for Boston, which had its five-game win streak snapped.

Washington led 1-0 after the first period despite being outshot 17-5. T.J. Oshie grabbed a giveaway by the Bruins and flipped the puck from the Capitals’ end to a wide-open Vrana, who beat Halak with 13:22 to play.

Tensions boiled over in the second when Washington’s Lars Eller and Boston’s Brad Marchand got tangled up during a play. Eller, whose celebration in front of the Boston bench after scoring the Capitals’ seventh goal in the opener drew postgame criticism from Marchand, was sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Donato tied it at 1 with 5:49 to play in the second. But, Ovechkin quieted the TD Garden crowd 39 seconds later when he converted after a feed from behind the net to make it 2-1.

Krejci ripped the tying power-play goal past Holtby from the right circle with 15:23 remaining in the third.

Ovechkin scored into an empty net with 1:35 left to seal the victory.

NOTES: Bruins D Charlie McAvoy missed his seventh straight game with a foot infection. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice and could return for Saturday’s game against Toronto. … Washington D John Carlson, born in nearby Natick, Massachusetts, celebrated his 29th birthday. … Boston announced a partnership with the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League team on Thursday. The Bruins are the fourth NHL franchise to partner with a NWHL team.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

MAPLE LEAFS 4, DEVILS 2: John Tavares scored twice and hit the 300-goal mark for his career in leading Toronto to a win at Newark, New Jersey.

Defenseman Ron Hainsey also scored in Toronto’s three-goal first period and third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves as the Maple Leafs beat the Devils for the third time in as many games. Mitch Marner added an empty-net goal with 22 seconds to play

BLUE JACKETS 4, PREDATORS 3: Artemi Panarin scored his second goal of the night 1:22 into overtime to lift Columbus to a home victory.

The Blue Jackets went up 3-1 with two quick goals in the third period. But the Predators answered with two scores in a 38-second span to tie it and set up the overtime goal for Panarin on a 4-on-3 power play.

FLYERS 2, STARS 1: Rookie Carter Hart stopped 37 shots and Philadelphia won at home to end an eight-game losing streak.

James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist, and Travis Konecny also scored for the Flyers. Jamie Benn scored for Dallas.

ISLANDERS 4, RANGERS 3: Josh Bailey scored with 1:26 remaining to lift the Islanders to a win at Madison Square Garden.

Cal Clutterbuck found Bailey cutting to the back post, and he beat Henrik Lundqvist to help the Islanders improve to 13-2-0 in the last 15 meetings between the Big Apple rivals.