Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
After two noisy days without a game, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins finally got into it again. After the feisty mess that was Game Three, the Capitals had something prove for the hometown crowd– and they had to do it without Nick Backstrom.
Brooks Laich set up Marcus Johansson for an odd-man rush to score in the first ninety seconds of the game. With Dennis Wideman overcommitted on offense, Rich Peverley had an easy time tying it up with an odd-man rush. Alex Semin beat Thomas with a surgical strike on a power play late in the second to give the Caps the lead. Caps beat Bruins 2-1.
- Discipline. The Capitals were buttoned up tight in Game Four. The after-whistle garbage was gone completely, and aside from a few errant sticks, the Caps played a conservative game. Aside from Mike Knuble’s holding penalty in the third, it was clean.
- And oh yeah: the Caps penalty kill is perfect. Still. 12-for-12. It’s team effort back there, enabled by a kinda crummy man-advantage effort from the visitors.
- Welcome back to pro hockey, John Erskine! Big John took a smart dive to close off Peverley’s passing lane before the game’s first goal and gave Shawn Thornton a smiling and violent welcome in front of Holtby’s net early on. Erskine was clearing guys out of the slot with gumption all night long. 11:02 TOI.
- The Capitals’ possession in the first period was a travesty. After scoring on their first shot early in the period, Washington went without another shot on goal for another ten minutes. By the end of the first frame, Boston had fired 14 shots at Braden Holtby compared to the Caps’ three. It’s very fortunate that the Caps finished the period with the score tied. It’s very funny that Thomas finished that same period with a .667 save percentage.
- The Caps ended up with a minus-35 Fenwick score. That’s their worst possession game of the year. By far.
- Dennis Wideman, man. Every team has its own fail whale in the playoffs, and Wides is ours. He was way too low on the broken play that led to Peverley’s goal, leaving John Erskine all along to shut down three dudes (which Ersk nearly did). There hasn’t been a Bruins goal during 5-on-5 in this series for which Wideman hasn’t had a great view.
- Wides caught Greg Campbell’s puck with his face with five minutes left in the third. After a quick scare, he skated off the ice– seemingly unscathed, and played the rest of the game. Everyone should wear a visor.
- Mike Green‘s visor recklessly and deliberately attempted to injure Benoit Pouliot‘s stick in the first period . Luckily, Green’s visor escaped discipline. This time…
- All respect possible to Marcus Johansson, who broke up one of those retaliatory odd-man rushes that the Caps are so good at allowing. Hauling his Swedish ass back from the o-zone to cover for Erskine, Johansson dove stick-first in front of the puck to shut down what would have been an easy go-ahead goal for the Bruins.
- Brooks Laich has four points in four games this postseason. He was a playmaking force tonight, setting up Jojo for the opening goal, teeing up a monster slap from Alex Semin, and ringing crossbars. When someone asks you tomorrow how the team stepped up without Nick Backstrom, draw a picture of Brooks Laich. Use various shades of cerulean and perriwinkle for the eyes.
Series record: Bruins 2, Capitals 2
Let’s see. We talked offense, defense, special teams. Did we miss anything?
BRADEN freakin’ HOLTBY. The sweet summer child from Saskatchewan gave us another sterling effort between the pipes. When the Capitals skaters iced the puck play after play, Holtby bailed ’em out. When the Caps had only a handful of shots on goal halfway through the game, Holtby kept ’em alive.
And when Tim Thomas spazzed out, Holtby remained serene. He shut down odd-man rushes, he cleared Bs out of his paint. He tracked pucks like a level-12 Eladrin ranger with training in pathfinding.
There is no such thing as a rookie goalie in Washington, D.C. this spring. Holtby is an old soul. He’s playing like a hall of famer.
GIF via TravisSBN
Despite being outshot by a Canadian mile, the Capitals pulled out the win. How did they do it? Thick and proud, baby. Thick and proud.
The series is tied. The Capitals are headed to Boston. Saturday afternoon. It’s gonna be a brawl.
Crash the net.
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott