Fresh off a 5-2 win against Tampa Bay and looking fresh with their new haircuts, the result of a charity event where 17 members of the team shaved their heads to raise money and support the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, the Bruins looked to continue their winning ways against a desperate Washington Capitals team. The Capitals, who are fighting for their playoff lives, are coming off a demoralizing 5-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabres, who they are battling with for the eighth and final playoff spot, this past Tuesday. The Bruins on the other hand, thanks to a timely three game winning streak, are just one win away from securing a playoff spot, and have a five point lead over the Ottawa Senators for first in the Northeast Division.
Starting his 57th game in net for Boston was Tim Thomas, who is 4-1-0 in his last five games. Tending net for Washington was Tomas Vokoun, whose last win came against the Bruins on March 10th. The crowd was pumped right from the get go as was evident by the thunderous roar as the puck was dropped.
The ice seemed to be tilted in Boston’s favor with most of the pressure in the Washington zone but a couple shots went wide and a few off sides calls put an end to any early threats. In fact the Bruins didn’t record their first shot on net until 6:38 into the first. For a team fighting for a playoff spot and a team trying to secure first place in their division, both teams came out pretty flat. There was a scary moment in the first period when Capital forward Jason Chimera charged Adam McQuaid behind the Bruins’ net. McQuaid went down and after a few minutes was seen leaving the ice holding his head. Chimera was issued a 5 minute major for charging and a game misconduct. With about a minute and a half left in the period Washington switched goalies and Michal Neuvirth began to guard the pipes. The Bruins really couldn’t muster up anything during the power play and the two teams went to the locker rooms scoreless. The shots on net pretty much summed up how the first period went; Bruins had 7 and Washington 2.
The Bruins, who are 16-8-2 when tied after the first period, looked to get a quick jump to the new frame, but unfortunately, the second verse started out just like the first. There was some back and forth action for both clubs but no real threats. Tyler Seguin provided the TD Garden crowd with a little excitement in a relatively dull second period when at the nine minute mark he collected the puck and rushed in on Neuvirth. Seguin was pushed wide and Neuvirth came up with an easy save. The Bruins were able to kill off a two minute David Krejci high sticking penalty with less than nine minutes remaining in the period. Hopefully, the momentum the Bruins gained in the defensive zone would carry over into the offensive side. This would not be the case as the second period ended with the teams tied at 0.
The Bruins faithful hoped that history would be on their side, the Bruins had outscored their opponents 98-60 in the third period of games this season, for a +38 differential. The crowd, trying to wake up the Bruins, and possibly themselves, started the third period with a “Let’s go Bruins” chant. As if listening to the crowd Bergeron had a great chance on a semi breakaway but the puck bounced off his stick and Neuvirth was able to poke it away. The Capitals were the first team to strike when former Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Wideman scored on a wrist shot that beat a screened Thomas high at 7:59 of the third. Almost two minutes later Marcus Johansson put the Capitals up 2-0 when he converted on a 2 on 1, as he one timed an Alex Ovechkin pass past a sprawling Thomas.
Krejci would make the ending of the game a little more interesting when he wristed a Zdeno Chara pass from the point past Neuvirth and into the net. The Bruins had new life and continued to attack the Washington net. The pressure would pay off as Andrew Ference scored on a slap shot with only 1:15 remaining in the game to tie it at 2. That is how the third period would end and the two teams would head to overtime.
Most of the overtime was spent in Washington’s zone as the Bruins having gained momentum from the end of the third, tried to end the game without having to go to a shoot out. This would not be the case as the teams were tied after the 5 minute overtime period.
The Bruins opted to go first in the shoot out and had a lineup of Krejci, Seguin and Patrice Bergeron against Matt Hendricks, Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin. Krejci was denied on his shot. Hendricks scored on his as he deked Thomas to the ground with a fake shot and the scored. Seguin tied it at 1-1 when he scored on a backhand. Ovechkin skated in wide on Thomas, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Bergeron gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead when he scored 5-hole. Thomas just had to come up with a save against Semin and the Bruins would win, unfortunately for the Bruins, Semin scored and pushed the shoot out to a 4th round. Richard Peverley could not squeak a shot by Neuvirth. Brooks Laich scored the winner for Washington as he deked Thomas and then roofed a backhand shot to give the Capitals the extra point and keep their playoff hopes alive.
When asked about his workload this season, having played in his 57th game, which ties the number of appearances he made last season, Thomas replied, “Its fine. I’m not even putting a thought into it. I’m just playing and you know, just trying to get ready for the playoffs.”
The Bruins’ next game will be against the New York Islanders this Saturday at 1:00PM.