So for all those who claimed goaltending was going to be Washington’s big problem, and yes I was in that group, we are still waiting to see that weakness. Thursday night in Washington, rookie call up Braden Holtby was rock solid and surely stole this one from the Bruins, who played arguably their best game of the series.This was certainly a goaltenders duel, and black and gold fans are not acustomed to coming out on the short end of these. Tim Thomas only faced 21 shots, 3 in both the 1st and 3rd period, but they were not of the easy kind and Timmy made some great ones. Braden Holtby saw much more rubber, setting aside 44 of 45 shots, which is a new record for most shots against Washington in a non overtime playoff game.
The Caps got the scoring started just 1:22 in when Marcus Johansson scored on a 2 on 1, set up when Alex Ovechkin tackled Andrew Ference at the blue line. This was the first of a couple questionable plays the referees were involved with. Rich Peverley would tie it up at the 13 minute mark when he beat Holtby with a nice wrister. He would later go to the box for a slashing penalty, briefly giving the caps some momentum with the power play. End of the first and it was tied up 1-1.
The second period was the busiest for Tim Thomas by far when he faced 15 out of the 21 shots the Caps had on the night. It was not only the quantity of shots that was alarming, but the quality. The Capitals mustered nine quality scoring chances, Tim Thomas and the defense stood tall though. Then at 17:53 Patrice Bergeron was called for hooking. This was a clear example of the inconsistency in NHL officiating. I am not a ref basher by nature, but this one was egregious. First of all, it was not even a hook. Second of all, this is playoff hockey AND that play happens twenty times a night. I will not say this cost the Bruins the game because they had many opportunities and did not win enough battles, but it sure did not help. While the Bruins were killing the penalty, Alexander Semin collected the puck by the faceoff dot and ripped a shot past Thomas. The Capitals went into the 3rd up 2-1.
The Bruins once again asserted themselves in the third, both offensively and defensively. The Bruins only gave up 3 shots while taking 13, and came very close to tying it multiple times. At the end of regulation though, it was the Caps winning 2-1. The series will shift back to Boston and has become a best of three series, with Boston winning back home ice. The next game will be Saturday afternoon at 3:00.
If the Bruins have any plans on making it through to the next round, they will have to start playing like they want it. They are winning enough battles, not getting in front of the net, not sacrificing and getting to the dirty areas like they do when they are all in. They had 45 shots tonight, but only about 15 quality scoring chances. Holtby will stop what he sees, and the Bruins need to create traffic and jump on rebounds. They did that in game 3 and low and behold, they scored four goals. I think it is time to send a message to some of these guys. Seguin has disappeared, Marchand looks awful, and David Krejci needs to be on a line where he can create, not be the scorer. Jordan Caron is sitting in the press box and guess what, they guy will give you effort and grit. Let Seguin see what the game looks like from above again, and maybe that will light a little fire. I did not think it was possible, but this power play may be worse than last years. The problem is not only that it is producing nothing for the B’s, but it is actually giving momentum to the Caps each time they kill one off. They need to cycle the puck, and shoot. But when they shoot they must hit the net! I am so tired of seeing shots plaster the boards or bounce off defensman. Krejci needs back on the Power play, he opens up lanes beautifuly. And last, Dale Hunter and the Capitals organization’s little ploys to the officials seemed to work, Boston only getting one power play, and maybe Claude needs to fire back. Whatever they have to do, they better figure it out. See you all Saturday, and Let’s Go Black and Gold!