Capitals 5, Bruins 3
It was the best first two periods by the Washington Capitals, followed by a Boston Bruin rally in the third. What looked to be a walk away domination, the Caps took a couple of bad penalties early in the third period and it spurred a Bruin offensive outburst. It was stemmed when John Carlson put a slapper past the Bruin goaltender with over six minutes remaining to get the game winner.
While no goals were scored in the first period, the Caps played their best first period of the season. They held the Bruins to only 3 shots in the first while peppering Tim Thomas with eight shots of their own. In the second the dam broke for the Bruins when Tomas Fleischmann wins the face off and shovels it back to Tyler Sloan who cranks it past Thomas for his first of the season.
The Caps' defense wasn't done there as the Bruins defenders broke down in the zone and Alex Ovechkin found Mike Green open cross ice. Green waited out Gregory Campbell going down for the block and beat Tim Thomas high glove side. It would extend the Caps lead to 2-0. Green would figure in on the third goal when Alex Semin makes an aggressive move on the penalty kill. It would lead to a two on one with Brooks Laich and Green the trailer. Semin passed it back to the Caps defender who gave it right back. Semin's shot slipped under Thomas and the Caps would take a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
The first half of the third it was a different story. Jason Chimera took a hooking call off the face off and while he sat for two, the Bruins' power play took advantage as Micheal Ryder scored. Then John Erskine was called for interference and the Bruins rallied to cut the lead to one goal with another power play goal by Nathan Horton. Then a bad turnover by the Capitals lead to a Shawn Thornton goal off an odd man rush.
Bruce Boudreau would pull Michal Neuvirth after the third goal and replace him with Braden Holtby. It would be Holtby's first action in the regular season in the NHL. After the change, the Caps started to clamp down on the sudden hot Bruin offense. Holtby would only face 4 shots, but they were all huge saves. John Carlson would put the cherry on top netting the game winner off another face off win. Add an Alex Ovechkin empty netter and the Caps are close to tying up the season series with the Bruins who already have the 2-1 advantage.
A first for Holtby
Braden Holtby not only got the win, his first NHL win in his first start, but he also donned the hard hat in the locker room following the game. For a rookie who wasn't expected to see much of any ice time while backing up Neuvirth, to be thrown in to a game tied with the tide going against your team is asking a lot of any goaltender, let alone a first timer. Holtby would face 4 shots, repelling them all.
It wasn't a great game for Zdeno Chara. He finished with a -4 and no shots on net. A big part of the Bruins offense, especially on the power play, the fact he had no shots means the Caps did a good job of keeping him from being a factor for the Bruins.
A ten minute brain cramp
The Caps played the perfect first two periods, only to allow a talented Bruin team to roar right back and tie the game up early in the third period. The Bruin rally would be snuffed out when Boudreau would change goaltneders and the Caps' defense suddenly woke up again. In the first 9:51 of the third period, the Bruins would score three goals on five shots.
While Neuvirth wasn't scored upon until the third period, he had only faced 9 shots through the first two periods. After the power play goal, which had very little to do with the Caps' netminder, he seemed to struggle going down early on Bruin advances. Both the second and third goals could have (and should have) been stopped. Boudreau would pull him after the third goal.
Caps' D helps with Caps' O
Three of the five goals the Capitals scored tonight came off the sticks of the Capitals' defensemen. Sloan, Green and Carlson contributed to the scoring effort tonight. Jeff Schultz was the Caps best in the plus/minus column with a +3 and had an assist.
While the Caps trailed in face off wins (45%) against the Bruins, two big draws led to two big goals. The first was Fleischmann's draw back to Sloan that led to a goal. The second was Boyd Gordon's win the led to Carlson's goal. Both were clean face off wins.
Ovechkin continues his point streak now through 5 games with 8 points during that stretch (3g, 5a). Semin has a three game streak for both goals and points, 6 points (3g, 3a).