According to Nicklas Backstrom, Tim Thomas apologized in the series-ending handshake line for punching him with his blocker, and other headshots Backstrom took from Boston players during the series against the Bruins, who the Caps sent home last night with a Game Seven overtime game-winning series-clinching beatiful ugly goal (G7OTGWSCBUG) by Joel Ward.
Photo credit: Brian Babineau
While Braden Holtby and Joel Ward will be receiving all the attention after last night’s Game Seven victory, it was Karl Alzner who may have made the most clutch play of the game.
Thirty-five seconds into overtime, an energetic Bruins team camped out in the Capitals offensive zone and looked to end the game early on their first shift. As Dennis Seidenberg blasted a shot from the point, Braden Holtby stopped the puck with his right pad. However, a rebound squirted loose and landed right onto Patrice Bergeron‘s stick.
That’s when Alzner — a two-time WJC gold medal winner with Team Canada (and its captain) — cooly and calmly dove to the ice and got a piece of Bergeron’s shot with his stick. Video is below.
Photo credit: Brian Babineau
Joel Ward was a playoff hero for Nashville last year, leading the league in postseason goals at one point in the first round and ending with better than a point per game.
That grit and clutch goal-scoring was why General Manager George McPhee outbid a number of other teams to sign Ward in the summer to an expensive 4-year, $12 million contract.
In the regular season, however, things didn’t go as planned. Ward was benched one game for missing a meeting, scratched several games for poor play, and managed to tally just six goals. It was the worst offensive season of his career– though he spent most of it assigned as a fourth liner.
But Joel Ward’s play in the regular season isn’t what got him glory in Nashville. And it’s not what just put him in Capitals’ record books forever.
Photo credit: Elsa
Game Seven. You know the deal.
Jason Chimera dropped the puck to John Carlson, who fired a shot that Matt Hendricks tipped in. Tyler Seguin dove to knock in a loose puck behind Braden Holtby to tie the game heading into the third period. The game went into overtime.
And then it happened. You knew it would. Mike Knuble crashed the net and Joel Ward swept in the rebound. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).
Holtby’s not impressed.
Before the series started, the Bruins talked a tough game about getting in Braden Holtby‘s face and making life difficult for him. Like many players before them, they soon learned that was easier said than done. With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of a tense second period, Rich Peverley got a little too close to Holtby and Holtby let him know by shoving him off his skates. Peverely retaliated — or at least, pretended to, taking a two-handed slash at Holtby that he stopped just short, clearly trying to spook or scare him.
Video is below the jump.
Video by Roxanne Wilson
Braden Holtby has been a demigod in this series, a rookie goalie going toe-to-toe with a reigning Conn Smythe winner for the first time in NHL history and handling the pressure more brilliantly than any of us could have guessed. Holtby has a .935 SV% and a 2.18 GAA for the series so far, has stopped 202 of the 216 shots directed his way, and tonight, he has an opportunity to etch his name on Caps history.
There are some facts in the world that are undeniable: the earth is round, the sky is blue, and Brad Marchand is a diver.
The Washington Capitals are 2-7 all-time in Game Sevens. They’re 0-1 all-time in Game Sevens on the road, 1-2 all-time in Game Seven OT, and none of that matters at all, because all we need them to be is 1-0 in Game Sevens on April 25, 2012, versus the Boston Bruins.
Kanoobs celebrates his Game 5 goal. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
After being scratched for the first three games of the Caps’ first round series against Boston, 39-year-old Mike Knuble was inserted into the lineup for Game Four and hasn’t been taken out since. The fan-favorite right wing even scored in the third period of Game Five to help the Capitals take a 3-2 lead in the series. Knuble has always been reliable for the Caps in the postseason — he’s scored 5 goals in 16 career playoff games for the Capitals and has 28 points in 57 career playoff games. The 16-year NHL veteran has also won a Stanley Cup and played in three Game Sevens, which is something not many players on the Caps roster can say.
So what should we expect to see in the deciding game on Wednesday? In an interview with DC101’s Elliot in the Morning, Knuble talks about Braden Holtby, tuning out the Bruins’ trash-talk, and Ovechkin’s limited ice time in Game Three.