Both teams went into the game having lost both their first 2 games. Both looking to get the 3rd seed in the playoff. For Boston who had won this year’s President’s Trophy, this is disappointing. Even with a strong conference it’s concerning. Washington is more of what was expected.
Oshie Strikes First
The period started out with a great chance for Evgeny Kuznetsov less than a minute into the game. A dump in, resulted in the Russian getting a partial breakaway against Tuukka Rask. He attempted the wrap-around and had Rask beat, but a great defensive play by Zdeno Chara prevented a clear shot and poked away the puck to keep the score even.
After the hectic start, things calmed down a little, and chances became rarer. Physicality started to become the story of the game and both teams did not allow many chances.
It took a powerplay to create Boston’s first noticeable opportunity. With their first shift, Boston had a good chance on a deflection, but Braden Holtby made a nice save on Patrice Bergeron after a shot from the point. Outside of that, the PP went away without much action after good defense from Washington.
An icing from Boston finally gives the game its first goal. It came after Rask was forced to give up a rebound on a deflection. The pucked looked to bounce onto the stick of Chara and without any major danger, but a smart heads-up play by T.J. Oshie forced a mistake from the Slovak. Oshie got his stick in front of Chara and poked the puck into a wide-open net and gave the Capitals the one-goal lead, after the first period.
The Wall of Washington
The first 7 minutes of the period was messy, to say the least. It was rusty and unfocused hockey. Therefore it was within this flow that the game found Boston’s greatest chance of the game. After a broken play where the puck was bouncing around in the Washington zone for a few seconds, it eventually found its way to the stick of Charlie McAvoy. In alone against Holtby, he tried to shoot it glove side but a world-class stop from Holtby robbed McAvoy and the Bruins the game-tying goal.
This chance was then followed by a great rush by Jakub Vrana, who drew a penalty. This gave the Caps a few great looks to players like Nicklas Backstrom and Kuznetsov, but none greater than the last chance of the powerplay where Ilya Kovalchuk found space on the wing. His first shot was saved by Rask, but on the rebound, he almost managed to squeeze it past Rask but the puck rolled across the line and hit the far post.
The period had life and with 6 minutes left of the period, Boston had the chance to tie the game. A great 2 on 1 chance was first denied by Holtby, but the ensuing rebound sent behind him and back into the slot. A mad scramble happened and eventually, Nick Ritchie got the puck with a gaping net. However, despite getting 2 shots, Ritchie somehow couldn’t find a way past a diving defender and Holtby. A chance that should have found the back of the net missed.
The game seemed to have found its winner 3 minutes into the third period. Tom Wilson found room behind McAvoy. As the puck got dumped in behind the Bruins defender, Wilson jumped on it, giving him a breakaway. He roofed the puck over Rask’s shoulder and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Seconds later Alexander Ovechkin almost made it 3-0 on a one-timer, but Rask made a wonderful save to keep the games within reach. Overall Washington dominated the early parts of the period. Creating chances and dominating the run of plays. Rask however was sharp and denied the Caps putting the final nail into the coffin.
On a 4 on 4, David Pastrnak almost cut the lead in half after a great move at the blueline gave him a breakaway but Holtby was quick and made a good pad stop. However, this was the start of a minor Boston surge that only grew stronger when Jake DeBrusk scored. Jonas Siegenthaler got the puck caught in his feet and DeBrusk took full advantage of the situation. With a fast wrister, he beat Holtby and gave life to the Bruins.
The Bruins tried to establish some pressure late in the period, but they never truly got close. Washington held on and will now be facing the New York Islanders in the first round. Boston finishes winless in the round-robin and will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round.
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