- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sudden-death overtime losses can feel like gut punches. Thursday night was not that for the Washington Capitals.

Chris Kelly ended their hopes of capturing Game 1 and put the Boston Bruins up 1-0 in the first-round series, but the consensus in the visiting locker room at TD Garden was that the Caps weren’t crushed by this defeat.

“It’s not that bad. We’re happy with the way we played,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think we could’ve used a few more breaks. It’s a 1-0 game. That’s a pretty good game for us. It’s easy to bounce back from that.”

Defensively, the Caps improved drastically in the third period and thrived when Braden Holtby survived the Bruins‘ buzzing attack. One shot from Kelly that beat Holtby dug a hole, but players and coach Dale Hunter didn’t paint this one as a game they’ll regret.

“We had our scoring chances, too. The second period they got a lot of shots. We just took too many penalties,” Hunter said. “They’re going to fire a lot of pucks at the net, but Holtby stood strong, and we had our chances.”

The best chance came for Alex Ovechkin on a power play early in the third. A perfect pass from Nicklas Backstrom got the puck to the captain on the weak side, and Tim Thomas had to make a sliding pad save to keep it out.

“They had a couple prime chances and he kind of shrugged them off like they weren’t a big deal,” Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo said. “So I’ll probably look forward to seeing him do that a lot more in the playoffs. He’s a little unorthodox, but he makes it look easy.”

Score there and it changes the complexion of the game and probably the series.

But with Holtby’s brilliance (29 saves) and the Caps matching the Bruins‘ physicality, there’s plenty hope they can even the series Saturday.

“I thought we battled hard. Holts played a great game, but we do have to bounce back,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “That’s the key there is we can’t lose the next one. We need to come out and win that game and go back to Washington with a 1-1 record. We’ve got to think about our mistakes tonight but buckle down and be ready for the next one.”