Monday night in Washington the Bruins would look to find their game and get back into the win column. Though it took a little to get back to Bruins hockey, the black and gold would accomplish both those goals, with some much needed animosity to go along with it.The loud and enthusiastic crowd jeered Tim Thomas with chants and posters of Obama, setting the stage for the pivotal third game in the quarterfinal series. Given the other series going on right now, the Bruins and Capitals appeared to be the good boys of the NHL, and you had to know that was not going to last for long. The game featured 6 roughing penalties to go along with some unsportsmanlike and cross checking calls as well as a 5 minute match penalty to Nicklas Backstrom as time expired.
The Bruins power play went 0-6 on the night, and is bringing back memories, or should I say nightmares, of last spring. On the other hand, Washington’s power play gained them a lot of momentum tonight and a power play tally by Alexander Semin was the lone goal in the first period. As the period expired, a dust up occurred and Milan Lucic would be in the middle of it all, a familiar place for him both on the night and in general. He was hit with a roughing minor while Backstrom was given a minor for cross checking. This would be just the beginning of the nastiness.
The second period opened up four on four, and it only took the B’s 35 seconds to tie it up when Rich Peverley criss crossed with Chris Kelly in the zone and snapped a wrister off Holtby and in the back of the net. The Caps would answer just 13 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin potting his first of the postseason. Daniel Paille would be the recipient of a rebound off Holtby and after making a quick adjustment, slid a backhander in to tie it up again. Then we got some more of the rough stuff. Once again Milan Lucic would be at the center of it, though not starting, he makes sure to finish it. This time both he and Brooks Laich would receive unsportsmanlike minors. When the horn sounded it was once again deadlocked, a common theme in this series.
The Bruins once again started a period the way they wanted, Brian Rolston slamming a puck in the net and through a pile up. The hitting and physicality would continue through the period and the time clock continued to click down in Boston’s favor. The Capitals are a resilient bunch, and would not go away, switching momentum shifts with the Bruins all night and exploiting Bruin breakdowns at any opportunity. No more clear was that then when Brooks Laich flew the zone and was left at the red line for a good 3 seconds all alone. Backstrom snapped a pass through the zone and Laich was all alone for a breakaway, outwaiting Tim Thomas and tying it up again. With under four minutes remaining, things got real interesting. Lucic was cross checked from behind after the whistle and some shoving ensued. A few gloved punches were thrown and then Lucic dropped his gloves, ready and willing to answer Matt Hendricks. From behind, Karl Alzner grabbed Lucic by the head and started pulling it while he was engaged with Hendricks. A 10 man pile up ensued and somehow Lucic ended up with the extra two.
That seemed to get the Bruins going and after some sustained offensive zone time, Zdeno Chara would let off a howitzer from the blue line which beat Holtby and sunk the Caps in game 3. With under 5 seconds left, Rich Peverley tied up the puck in the corner and the clock bleed out. But just before the final horn sounded, and yes I mean like 2 seconds before, Ovechkin came in and hit Peverley from behind right in the numbers. It was not a devastating hit, but unneccessary and potentialy dangerous. Pev’s went back at him and Backstrom came in with a high cross check to Peverleys head that looked a whole lot like what Aaron Asham did yesterday. By the way, Asham has a hearing with Mr. Shanahan tomorrow. Backstrom was given a match penalty and the gate, which is meaningless unless further discipline is assigned. This is a reckless, dirty, and irresponsible hit that the league needs out of the game. I think Backstrom and Asham should both receive a game off. If Asham sits and Backstrom doesn’t, we will have just one more example of star treatment from Mr. Shanaban.
Tim Thomas finished the game stopping 29 of 32, Holtby right behind him stopping 25 of 29. I think this game will be the wakeup call the Bruins need. There is no doubt that this team plays better with an edge, and they get no better edge than when they have true disdain for another team. Before this game, Washington gave no reason, other than the fact they never quit and went away, to really hate them. It was physical, but it was clean and mostly whistle to whistle. Tonight we saw a blatant dirty stick between the legs to Brad Marchand by Jason Chimera. We saw countless after the whistle prodding and then the really tough Karl Alzners antics, both from behind and then with a referee between him and Looch. After the referees saved him from having all of his teeth knocked out, he gave the Lucic the eye wipe gesture and called him a crybaby. While most of us can find that funny, particularly after learning Alzner had one fight one the year and he lost, Lucic will not. This team will not, and as we have seen many times in the past, the black and gold stand together.
The Bruins are mad and back in control of the series and home ice. They know they have to get to the dirty areas, battle and sacrifice to score goals. Washington is not going anywhere and this will continue to be a grind and a struggle but at least the black and gold have the blue print. Get bodies in front of Holtby all night and HIT THE NET! Good things happen when the biscuit gets in close. Game 4 will be Thursday night back down in Washington. Let’s hope someone finally poked the bear enough to get them going. Let’s Go Black and Gold!