Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Game Three: The Washington Capitals treated the Boston Bruins to a quiet night of conversation and sport. And then all these damn rowdy Caps fans showed up and spoiled what could have been a pleasant night. It was ugly, it was loose, it was the opposite of those first two games, and it ended tragically.
With Brooks Laich screening up front, Alex Semin converted a first period penalty play while Chara was in the box. Rich Peverly tied it up, but who cares because Alex Ovechkin scored 13 seconds later. Daniel Paille was left all alone in front of Holtby, tying the game at two. Brian Rolston exploited some bad Caps D early in the third and gave the Bruins their first lead of the night. Nick Backstom set Brooks Laich loose for a breakaway to beat Tim Thomas and tie it with six minutes left.
On a late-game 4-on-4, Zdeno Chara’s slapshot caught a little bit of Hamrlik and got past Holtby. Bruins beat Caps 4-3.
UPDATE 10:45 pm: Nick Backstrom’s high hit after the final buzzer earned him a match penalty. He is automatically suspended from Game Four, but that may be waived later tomorrow.
- The first period ended with a frustrated Boston team roughing up your precious Capitals. Milan Lucic un-helmed Nick Backstrom and roughed up his noggin while Zdeno Chara manhandled a little boy who wandered out on the ice wearing a Mike Green jersey. For some reason, Backstrom served a roughing penalty, which is utter jive. The Looch and Backy stuff is a chronic problem, and it needs to end before this series turns into Pens-Flyers.
- This series has been tighter than we Caps fans are used to, but the magic of 4-on-4 hockey temporarily enchanted it at the beginning of the second period. Those two goals in 13 seconds were special: Ovechkin chasing a bouncing puck into Thomas’ domain, and Peverly sailing a puck at the tip of Holtby’s glove. For the second time in two bullets, this game looked a bit like the battle of Pennsylvania for a moment.
- How does Milan Lucic get Caps to go to the penalty box with him? He’ll slewfoot Laich and then Laich gets an unsportsmanlike. That’s… really impressive actually. Dale Hunter has to appreciate that, although I’m sure he hates it as much as I do. We’re thankful that the refs are calling obstruction penalties by the book now, but Zdeno Chara should not allowed to powerbomb and then spoon Brooks Laich without consequence.
- Two-point night for Captain Alex Ovechkin, who found new ways to get away from Chara’s coverage. Dale Hunter paired Ovi with Jason Chimera, whose speed and aerodynamic head shape kept spinning around the massive Boston D squad. Ovi is still carrying the puck too much– which means he doesn’t trust his line to create the plays for him. Gotta fix that.
- The fourth liners were basically erased from the second period, as Dale Hunter did his shortened bench routine. That meant very little ice for Ward, Beagle, and Aucoin.
- The Capitals defense that was so mindblowingly excellent last game inevitably declined. Fell off a cliff really. The turnovers that had all but gone extinct made a coelacanthic comeback, and the D-corps couldn’t get loose pucks away from Braden’s net before Rolston could swat one in. Tighten up, boys.
- After Braden Holtby shut down the Bruins power play, Milan Lucic started the s-word again. This time he suckerpunched Matt Hendricks. Again, he drew Hendy into the penalty.
- Gorgeous breakaway goal on Brooks Laich, whose got a bit of grit, a bit of skill, and enough charisma to lead a pack of corgis on the iditarod.
- In both Capitals’ losses this series, the game-winning goal has came off of a defender’s stick. In Game One it was Dennis Wideman. Tonight it was Roman Hamrlik. Awful way to lose.
- Braden Holtby, eh? If you were expecting another nigh-perfect effort, this attenuation of your expectations is probably healthy. One softie got past him, but that happens to everybody sometimes. 25 saves on 29 shots.
Series record: Bruins 2, Capitals 1
Well, at least it wasn’t a goalie duel.
The Capitals earned a lead and then gave it up. The blame rests squarely on the Caps D, who couldn’t be perfect forever.
All credit possible to the fans who brought signs, both homemade and prefab, to Verizon Center tonight. We’re gonna need that same fury on Thursday night.
The Bruins are playing their brand of hockey with elaborate flourishes after each hit. The Caps are too eager to play along, especially on their home turf. But how is Dale Hunter gonna ask the Capitals not to play the way he did for so long?
Thursday night will be huge. The Capitals had a chance to steal this series, and they blew it. If they can tie the series on Thursday night, there’s a good chance they can pull this out– although they’re gonna have to do it on the road now.
Huge disappointment, but that’s playoff hockey for ya. Crash the net.