The Bruins hosted the Capitals (much) earlier tonight in their best of 7 in the first round. With the series tied at a game apiece, this game loomed pivotal for momentum and control of the series. It took a little more than a period and a half of extra hockey to get it done; but the Bruins won it with a 3-2 victory in double overtime.
The Bruins rolled out the exact same lineup as last game, but there were a few changes on the other side of the ice. Lars Eller was out and Evengy Kuznetsov was back in fresh as new powder from his COVID vacation all energized up and skating on the razor’s edge. The Caps also started their 3rd different goalie in as many games, with Ilya Samsonov between the pipes.
The opening frame was a study in special teams as both sides had 3 power plays. The Bruins outshot the Caps 10-4, with a decided edge in zonetime as well. The Bruins seemed to adjust to the Caps clogging the neutral zone as they had an easier go of it and were gaining the Caps zone with possession (although that is definitely easier when you’re on the PP).
The Bruins kept their foot on the gas in the 2nd and controlled the pace of play for the first half of the period. The Caps ramped up their physical play and the Bruins were getting drawn into retaliatory (read: stupid) actions. Marchand was whistled off for unsportsmanlike for keeping his stick in Mantha’s face during a scrum (something he did last game which drew matching penalties), but tonight he went to the box alone. This was a dumb penalty taken by one of the Bruins best penalty killers. Of course Ovechkin gets the Caps on the board on the ensuing power play when he converted a Mantha pass in the low slot. To be fair (to be faaaaaaaaiiiiiiiir) McAvoy lost an edge as he was coming out behind the net and gifted the puck to Mantha, but the Bruins should never have been on that PK in the first place.
The Bruins were pushing to get the next one and Taylor Hall showed off those silky mitts. Less than a minute after the Caps goal, Hall may have scored the prettiest goal of the playoffs so far. Hall converted a sweet behind the back pass from Smith to go backhand-forehand-shelf to tie the game. I mean it’s not even fair how filthy that goal was. Caught the puck on his forehand and pivoted around the puck to go backwards across the net mouth and then he dragged it with him to go up under the bar. Taylor Hall has entered The Matrix. A quick shoutout to Kevan Miller for doing the yeoman’s work of keeping the puck in the zone and setting it up for Smitty to dish.
Almost immediately after the Hall goal, Hathaway crashed the net and Rask’s helmet got knocked off in the scrum. Great to see Rask fired up as he was throwing bombs at Hathaway (ok, they were blocker punches, but still great to see). In the “vulnerable minute” as Home Boy Jack calls it: Pastrnak coughed up the puck at the blue line with the D already past him and activated, and Dowd redirected Hathaway’s point drive past Rask to put the Caps back up headed into the 3rd period.
The Bruins looked disinterested to open the final frame and were sloppy in their own end. The Caps had the edge in zone time and were controlling play for the first half of the period before Marchand finally broke through on the power play with a little more than 8 minutes left to play. Pastrnak was below the LW dot when he spun the puck back on his backhand to Krecji at the left point. After half of a stride, Krecji faked the clapper and found McAvoy at the top of the RW faceoff circle; Chuckie Bright Lights gathered the puck in stride and fed Bergeron at the bumper position where he one-timed the puck on net. Samsonov coughed up the rebound off his chest (rebound control was an issue for him all night) and Marchand fungo-ed the puck into the net.
All tied up bitches.
The teams played careful hockey the rest of the way, or at least the Caps did. The Bruins employed some type of a rope-a-dope style of play that saw them pinned in their own end while the Caps blasted away at Rask for the last 3 minutes of regulation. Not a sustainable plan going forward.
In the first overtime period the teams took turns carrying the play until the Bruins decided to put their workboots on. The Bruins had the first 3 SOG and then the Caps the next 3 SOG, and that’s when the Bruins dialed it back in. They carried the play the rest of the way outshooting Washington 14-2 for the rest of the period. Say what you will about the way the game ended, Samsonov was excellent in the first OT period.
In double OT, the Bruins had the edge in possession and Pastrnak nearly ended the game when he broke in alone and somehow slid the puck under Samsonov and through the blue paint but not across the goal line. Oshie got his stick up on Pasta’s hands and tugged him off balance sending him crashing to the end boards. Luckily Pasta was ok and finished the game. With about 10 minutes left in the period, Samsonov went behind his own net to stop the puck for Schultz. Either Schultz wasn’t expecting it or Samsonov wasn’t supposed to play the puck in that situation; but Bruins Nation ‘aint complaining. The puck was handed on a silver platter to Smith and he circled the net and tucked it to send the boys into a pig pile in the Caps end. Love to see Smitty get that one. He plays with playoff intensity in January in Columbus. Great to see him living his best life.
Up next is Game 4 Friday night in Boston. 14 more W’s to go.
- Tuukka Rask kept the team in this game. He was dominant and calm all at the same time. Sharp on his angles and positionally sound. If I hear from a Bruins “fan” that tells me that Rask isn’t the goalie for this team, I know that I’m talking to an idiot.
- Good bounce back game for the Lazar line. Wagner and Kuraly were hitting everything that moves and watch the back and forth between Lazar and Raffi. There’s def a bit of hate going there and they were going at each other all night.
- Playoff Jake DeBrusk was held off the scoresheet for the first time in this year’s playoffs. You knew he’d fall back to earth, but he was still skating so this is really not all bad.
- Coaching. If you’re getting credit for adjustments, then you’re getting dinged for too many men on the ice penalties. Be better Butchie.
- Patrice Bergeron has now played the second most playoff games in Bruins history. He’s 28 games behind Ray Bourque for all time. What a legend.
- The Bruins and Capitals played their 12th straight one goal game in the playoffs tonight, an NHL record.