The defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins began their quest to become back-to-back champs, a feat that has only happened once in the last twenty years. On Thursday night, the Bruins took to the ice at TD Garden to face off against the Washington Capitals. The Bruins, second in the East, looked to get an early lead on the seventh place Capitals. The Capitals, who many thought would win the Eastern Conference, have had a history of finishing high in the standings during the regular season and then exiting early in the playoffs. Washington’s hopes to rewrite history would have to be earned through a hard fought battle as they drew a tough and talented Bruins team in the first round.
Starting in net for the Bruins, and looking to repeat his lights out performance of last post season, was the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Tim Thomas. In between the pipes for Washington was rookie Braden Holtby, who only has appeared in only 21 NHL games. Holtby got the nod in net due to injuries to both of Washington’s other goalies, Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth.
The Bruins, who came out firing, looked to test Holtby early as Tyler Seguin unleashed a slap shot from the right wing in the opening minutes of the first period. Holtby was being tested early and often, but was up to the task, stopping every shot he faced. There was some solid back and forth action between the two clubs, but both goalies were determined to stay flawless. The two teams would head into the first intermission tied at 0-0.
The action picked up midway through the second period as both teams had end to end rushes but neither could capitalize on their chances. Boston couldn’t figure out how to beat Holtby while Washington couldn’t figure out how to hit the net, in fact, Washington did not record their first shot until the 10 minute mark of the period. The Bruins saw a rare 4 on 3 power play when Holtby got a little too amped up and got a 2 minute penalty for roughing when he checked Chris Kelly. Unfortunately for all the fans of the Black and Gold at the TD Garden, the Bruins could not convert on their power play opportunity, but they did gain some momentum. The second period ended like the first, with both teams tied at 0-0.
Washington, who only mustered 7 shots between the two periods, seemed to put a different team on the ice for the third period. Washington came out firing on all cylinders and forced Thomas to make some great saves. Thomas made a great left to right skate save on Alex Ovechkin during a Washington power play to keep the game scoreless. The teams would end regulation still tied at 0-0 and head into sudden death overtime.
Just 1:18 into the overtime period Kelly came flying up the left wing and blasted a shot past Holtby giving the Bruins a 1-0 victory over the Capitals.
The Bruins look to go up 2-0 in this best of seven series this Saturday at 3PM at the TD Garden.