Coming into Game Five, Troy Brouwer — one of three players on the team to have a championship ring (Knuble, Aucoin) — had five career playoff goals in his career, including one in the Stanley Cup Finals.
He picked a great time for number six.
After the Capitals first power play unit struggled mightily to do anything productive in their shift on a late third period power play, off the bench jumped John Carlson, Mike Green, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, and Brouwer. Unlike their cohorts, they kept it simple.
The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins had split wins in each other’s cities. Saturday afternoon’s bout in Boston was the first of two games within 30 hours, and another example of how tight this series has been.
After a scoreless first, Alex Semin wristed the puck past Tim Thomas while Joe Corvo writhed in pain in the periphery. Jay Beagle sent a loose puck dribbling past Thomas to make it 2-0– the first time either team has had a two-goal lead all series. Dennis Seidenberg got some space from Ovechkin and beat Holtby near-side to get the Bruins on the scoreboard. Just a few seconds later, Marchand (with help from Peverley) pushed the puck through Holtby’s five-hole and tied the game.
And then…. in the third period…
Yes. Mike Knuble crashed the net to make it 3-2 for the Capitals. Johnny Boychuk tied it up while Dennis Wideman was in the penalty box. On the Brouwer Play, Troy Brouwer scored a brouwer play goal, his first brouwer play goal and the game-winner. Caps beat Bruins 4-3.
Braden Holtby. He was simply incredible against the Bruins Thursday night — the only reason why the Caps aren’t down 3-1 heading into Boston. The 22-year-old netminder made 44 saves while allowing a single goal (on a 2-on-1) as the Caps squeaked out a 2-1 victory.
“That’s playoff hockey,” Holtby said after the game. “That’s why it’s so fun — the close games, the close battles. I hope it doesn’t change and I hope that we’re on the high end of it every time.”
After struggling somewhat Monday night (though not as much as the defense) in the Capitals 4-3 loss, this was a hell of a way to bounce back. Throughout the game Holtby was continuously peppered with shots but made save after save.
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.
The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)
Though we often take shots at NBC coverage of Caps games, it’s playful ribbing of a shared suffering that all hockey fans endure sometimes. We are fully aware that there are worse fates, like being stuck watching on NESN with Jack Edwards commenting.
While Bruins fans seem to like him well enough, that’s not as much the case among fans of other teams, or those who value commentating that reflects what is actually happening on the ice. Case in point: Edwards’ radio appearance with WEEI after Game 3, wherein he describes a game and a series clearly occupying a reality separate from our own.
10:23 p.m. was not a good time for the Washington Capitals on Monday. That’s when the clock hit zero, putting the Caps down 2-1 in their best of seven quarterfinal matchup with the Bruins. But it was also what happened after the whistle that could haunt the team’s postseason chances.
As the final seconds ticked off and the Caps dropped the game 4-3, Boston’s Rich Peverley and Alex Ovechkin got into a scuffle. Coming to the aid of his buddy, Nicklas Backstrom delivered a cross-check up high on the Bruins forward. That’s when the inconsistent officiating of this series — and these playoffs as a whole — once again reared its head. For his infraction — the third called against him in the game — Backstrom was assessed a match penalty.
We almost feel like we’re watching some kind of bizarre social experiment in this series, as we observe Bruins forward Milan Lucic‘s temper simmer, simmer, and boil over more and more frequently as his line continues to be rather ineffective versus the Caps. These bursts of temper saw Lucic collecting 8 PIMs by the end of the night, though– puzzlingly- the refs seemed to think that it was always necessary to tack a Washington penalty on top, perhaps so Lucic wouldn’t get so lonely in the box. The refs have seen this behavior — he’s acting out for attention– and should know better.
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.