Johnny Boychuk’s shot knocked the wind out of Jay Beagle, hitting him in the chest as time ticked away in Game 4 on Thursday night. But it was a game-saving play to help the Washington Capitals hold on to beat the Boston Bruins to tie up the series.
So, naturally, it hurt so good.
“It’s a good sting,” Beagle said. “That’s why I play the game. To be out there in those pivotal moments, that’s the most fun.”
Beagle’s block was perhaps the most pivotal moment in the 2-1 victory, which included plenty of saves by Braden Holtby and a wicked shot by Alexander Semin.
“The play of the game was Beagle’s block at the end there. By far,” Holtby said. “By far that’s a play where everyone [is] thankful that he did that. That was the difference in the game.”
Coach Dale Hunter emphasizes shot-blocking for his team, saying it’s necessary to win. That’s especially true in playoff hockey the way these Caps play, trying to limit chances and quality of shots at the net.
That’s why after Game 4, Brooks Laich was quick to mention the play of Washington’s shutdown line, and most specifically Beagle.
“Everyone’s going to talk about Braden Holtby, but people should be talking about Jay Beagle. The job they do [against the Bruins’] top line: Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer,” Laich said. “Beags lays down to block that shot at the end of the game, pays the price to win. Those are unsung heros within a game. Holts is going to get a lot of the ink and rightfully so, but there’s other guys too that really helped us win.”
Hunter called Beagle’s block a show of “character” in the locker room. But the 26-year-old brushed it off as all in a day’s work.
“That’s my job, I feel like,” he said. “When the coaches put me out there in the last nine seconds, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to block that shot.”
Maybe that’s why Hunter says Beagle “grows on you,” thanks to work ethic and a desire to improve his all-around game, including faceoffs.
But blocking Boychuk’s shot made Beagle a bruised-up star in this series, and got the Caps a win.
“There’s a lot of adrenaline; the crowd was going nuts,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s ugly or pretty; you’ve just got to get the job done. We did it and it’s a great feeling.”