Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pushed To The Brink

Capitals 4, Bruins 3 Washington leads series 3-2
Game Summary - Event Summary

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Troy Brouwer scored with just 1:27 left in regulation to give the Washington Capitals their first lead of the series and pushed the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination. It didn't come easy. After getting the series' first two goal lead, the Caps let the lead slip away. A late power play gave the Caps the little room they needed to take the seven game series back to the Verizon Center with a shot at knocking off the Bruins.

It was a typical Boston/Washington game thus far in this series. Tight checking and two goaltenders going toe to toe with some ten bell saves. It would take a mad scramble in the second period and an injured Bruin to finally open space for the Caps. Joe Corvo laid sprawled on the ice after blocking a shot. But the B's couldn't get control of the puck to whistle down the play and the Capitals took full advantage. Alex Semin found the loose puck in front of Tim Thomas and pounded home the rebound to open the scoring.

Jay Beagle, mostly known for his face offs and defensive play, also scored for the Caps. His first career NHL playoff goal and point. It started with Beagle making the defensive play to get the puck t of the zone and the forecheck forced the Bruins to dump it up the boards, Beagle intercepted the dump out and walked in and shot it on net. The puck hit the Bruin defender's stick and fooled Thomas to give the Caps the first team in this series a two goal lead.

After that, it seemed the Caps controlled the pace and dictation of the game. But blown coverage on the defensive end for the Capitals left Denis Seidenberg open for a perfect shot that fooled Braden Holtby. Then just :28 seconds later, Brad Marchand scored a garbage goal off of the point shot between Holtby's pads. Just like that, the game was tied going into the third period.

Mike Knuble, on the roster replacing a bruised up Matthieu Perreault, crashed the net on a Joel Ward shot and was rewarded with a rebound and a goal just 3:21 in the third period.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The way Capitals' goaltender Holby was playing, it looked as if that would be the final goal of the game. He stone cold robbed youngster Tyler Seguin when a pass found the crafty forward alone in front of the net. But Holtby stretched out and made the pad save keeping the scored 3-2 at that point. Holtby would finish the game with 34 saves and had a .918 save percentage for the game.

Special teams would take over for the rest of the game. After going 0 for 14 on the power play in the series, the Boston Bruins finally notched a power play goal on the Caps stingy penalty kill. Johnny Boychuk got a slapper from the point through Holtby to tie the game at 3 with over 11 minutes left in the game. The Bruins nearly had an earlier goal on the power play, but Zdeno Chara hit the crossbar.

Benoit Pouliot took a slashing call on Nick Backstrom to give the Caps the extra man advantage. In the previous power play, the Capitals almost allowed a shorthanded goal when an errant pass from Marcus Johansson missed the target for Brook Laich and Pouliot was in for a break away hit the post with his shot. For most of the power play, the Caps looked disjointed. But a streaking Brouwer found a small opening above Thomas' glove and put away the game winner with 1:27 to play.

At times the play got away from the tight defensive stingy play that has dominated the series. There was some firehouse hockey in the third period with teams exchanging chances, Alex Ovehckin nearly corralling a bouncing puck on one end and Marchand nearly undressing Mike Green on the other.

It wasn't free of the rough stuff either. Both teams took to the game physically with the Bruins outhitting the Capitals 35 to 27. Thomas took exception to John Carlson crashing the net and nearly took off the young defender's head with his blocker. Chara got his bell rung when he took Jason Chimera to the wall, and Chimmer gave him a love tap with the back of his elbow as the two were tied up. Both teams battled in corner scrums and clashes for loose pucks. For the most part, both teams kept their discipline.

The series comes back to the Verizon Center where the Caps look to end the series at home. But the toughest test of the playoffs would be to face the Bruins who were 4-0 in games facing elimination, including the final two games of the Finals with Vancouver.

Caps Notes:
  • Seidenberg's goal ended a streak of 84 minutes, 9 seconds of shutout by Caps' netminder Holtby. 
  • Danny Sabourin was recalled to Hershey and Michal Neuvirth made his playoff debut as back up goaltneder.
  • Alex Ovechkin finished with a -1, 5 shots, one shot blocked, one missed shot and 5 hits. He was held with out a point for the second game of this series, the first was in game one.

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