The Bruins played as close to a perfect game as you can hope for in the NHL playoffs. They dominated all aspects of the game; controlling the pace and tempo and meeting the physicality of the Caps. It turned into a laugher as the Bruins skated off with a 4-1 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The Bruins’ lineup remained the same with Tuukka Rask in net facing Ilya Samsonov and Lars Eller was back in for the Caps. I was surprised to see Samsonov back in there, based on the way Alex Ovechkin was yelling at him after the last game, I just assumed that the call was made to the Kremlin and we would’ve seen on the news that Samsonov “fell out of a window”.
Tough look for a “leader” to call out his goalie in private, let alone national tv.
The Bruins had to kill off 2 early penalties but the boys were buzzing and the 4565 fans in attendance certainly had the barn bumping. You could see the Bruins had jump early in the game, and the Caps looked slower in comparison. Charlie McAvoy was activated from his first shift and paced the team with his first career 3 point playoff game. Not a big deal. The Bruins outshot the Caps 11-4 in the opening period and did just about everything but score. Charlie Coyle had the best bid with 30 seconds left in the 1st, when he beat Samsonov clean blocker side but rang the puck off the iron. The teams headed to intermission with gooses on the board.
In the 2nd the effort margin widened between the 2 teams as the Bruins pushed the pace with a 2 man forecheck and a 5 man rotation on offense. The Caps have stubbornly kept playing man to man in their own end despite dropping (now) their 3rd straight: Cassidy is coaching circles around Laviolette so far in this series. A little more than half way through the period and the Caps (once again) showed their true colors. Kevan Miller was skating into the Caps zone after dishing the puck and Dimitry Orlov came off his line and off his skates to target Miller high. Miller was down and may have been out before he hit the ice; it was a high hit that was borderline late. The fact that he left his feet is probably going to cost him a game. Miller was helped off the ice and did not return.
Judge for yourself:
On the ensuing power play, Brad Marchand put the B’s up when he got a piece of David Pastrnak’s drag snap from the RW circle. David Krecji found McAvoy out high and he dished it to Pasta. Three strides into the circle and Pasta let it go and Marchy knocked it down at the blue paint to go 5-hole : 1-0 good guys. After the goal, the nasty definitely ramped up with a scrum after just about every whistle. Stripes tried to rein it in with some ticky-tack calls (slash on Jake DeBrusk and a rough on Garnet Hathaway), but neither team cashed in on their respective power plays. The Capitals finally got it going towards the end of the 2nd when Patrice Bergeron sailed one over the glass and was whistled for delay of game. On the power play, Rask was huge and almost single handedly kept the Caps off the scoresheet. I say almost, because I have to give some love to Conor Clifton. This beauty blocked 2 Ovechkin clapper’s sacrificing his body (and his stick) on the PK. Cliffy Hockey was huge tonight in the absence of Miller.
The Bruins opened the 3rd on the PP and Pasta finally got one. He’s been snakebit for awhile now and it was good to see him put one past Samsonov. McAvoy found him at the RW circle and he beat Samsonov under the far side arm with a wicked wrister. The Bruins were off and running. Just 34 seconds later Playoff Jake DeBrusk was sent away with a beauty of a pass from Charlie Coyle and broke in alone on Samsonov. He put the puck over the bar but stayed with the play and when the puck came back down off the glass, he tipped it back to the slot where Coyle was able to backhand the puck over the right leg of the sprawled Samsonov. Shout out to TMS’s own Caps guy, Disco for pointing out the slick hands of DeBrusk in the group thread.
Some questionable (and I’m being generous with that description) calls put the Caps back on the PP a few minutes later and Ovechkin got a gift goal (on a gift power play as Brick described it on the NESN feed) when his clapper that was going wide banked home off Brandon Carlo’s skate to deny Rask the shutout he so truly deserved. The B’s are up by 2 and if the Caps can just play clean and tighten things up, they’re right back in this game. But nope, scumbags gotta scumbag I guess and Anthony Mantha runs Rask and back to the PP the Bruins go. On the power play, Taylor Hall gained the LW circle and then went back to McAvoy at the point. McAvoy drove the circle and then went cross ice to Matt Grzelcyk with a one timer from the RW elbow. Samsonov never had a chance and it’s 4-1 Bruins. As Home Boy Jack crowed on the NESN feed “And now Mantha has the skate of shame from the penalty box back to the bench”
With just over 3 minutes left in the game, Coyle lofted one over the glass behind the Bruins’ bench and the Caps had one last gasp. They pulled Samsonov to go 6 on 4 hoping for some magic. No dice as Rask stays sharp and the Bruins get the W with a dominant home ice performance. The Bruins outshot the Caps 37-20 and held them to 1 for 7 on the power play. The Capitals looked so disinterested that Ovechkin was pulled off the power play late in the 2nd period. Look, I get it that he can score goals by the truckload, but he nearly cost the Caps the game early with his lackadaisical defense and half the time he’s out there, he’s been standing still. Yet another game against the Bruins where he doesn’t score 5v5 (hasn’t done it all season against the Bruins) and ends up a dash 1; what a leader.
Up next the Bruins look to close out the series at Washington on Sunday. 13W to go.
- Taylor Hall continues to impress. He’s playing a complete 200ft. game and it’s amazing to see how much Buffalo must have been dragging him down.
- Tuukka Rask was dominant tonight and has been this whole series.
- Curtis Lazar set the tone early and had his 6 week old son Owen, in attendance tonight. Nothing like blowing up somebody for your kid to see. At least the kid wasn’t born yet to see his dad chasing food poisoning when he was with Ottawa.
- Another too many men penalty. Those are going to hurt the Bruins at some point. Clean it up.
- Hate to see Kevan Miller get hurt again. Guy’s a warrior and has been playing great hockey. As I’m writing this, I haven’t found any updates but hope sure hope he’s ok.
- This isn’t really a minus, but hats off to Samsonov tonight. He played great in back of a team that looked disinterested. Tough night for a young goaltender.
- The Bruins/Caps string of one goal margin of victory in playoffs ends at a NHL record 12 games
- Tuukka Rask is your all time leader in Bruins career playoff wins with 54. Gerry Cheevers at 53
- The Bruins are 20-2 all time in a 7 game series when leading 3-1
- David Pastrnak has joined a pretty sweet club. All time Bruins playoff goals before they were 24 years old: Cam Neely had 33 – Barry Pederson had 21 – Bobby Orr had 20. Pasta is now tied with Pederson at 21 with plenty of hockey left this year (we hope).