After seeing the Boston Bruins in last year’s playoffs, the Washington Capitals knew full well how they didn’t want to play against them.
“If we can frustrate them and hold them off the scoresheet for a period, period and a half maybe then we can frustrate them enough to take over the game,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We’re definitely not going to try and trade chances with those guys. They’re a little too high-powered.”
The Caps did play the Bruins’ kind of game Tuesday night at Verizon Center, even spotting the 2011 Stanley Cup champions a three-goal lead. But just like all seven playoff games, this one had to be decided by a goal. Washington got it to overtime then picked up an emotional 4-3 victory.
Bruins fans who infiltrated the arena had plenty to celebrate in a dominant first period that included goals by Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton. The Caps had mistakes on each: John Carlson fell down on the play that prompted Marchand’s penalty shot; the whole team got crossed up on Chara’s put-back and Jay Beagle screened Braden Holtby on Hamilton’s blast from the point.
The Caps were just about skated out of the building before the first intermission, but like so many times before they managed to find some fight. The second period they took advantage of some Bruins blunders to get back into the game. Mike Ribeiro continued his magical season in Washington, while Tomas Kundratek picked up his first career NHL goal.
As the Caps threatened to tie the score in the third, they had to fend off several odd-man rushes the other direction. They were able to keep the Bruins from running up the score and finally tied it with Wojtek Wolski’s first goal since Feb. 1.
Eric Fehr was the overtime hero, splitting Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg to score what coach Adam Oates called a “highlight-reel goal.”