A game seven in an NHL playoff series epitomizes all that is right with professional sports. From the screams of ravage hockey fans before puck drop, to that game-winning-goal and post-game celebration, nothing is more exciting than watching a team capture this needed victory to advance too the next round.
Nothing changed at TD Garden Thursday night.
The game started with conservative play from both teams, nobody wanting to make that first mistake, as every play is magnified in a game of this magnitude.
Former property of the Bruins, Matt Hendricks scored the first goal of the game at the 11:23 mark of the first period. Milan Lucic skated past the puck in his own end, a mistake that proved costly as Hendricks tipped a shot from the point to beat Tim Thomas. This play by Lucic looked to change the entire complexion of the game.
Hendricks was a fun player to watch in this series. Like most of the Washington’s bottom-line forwards, he played his role well, winning clutch face-offs, taking the body, and making smart plays.
The Bruins started to find their rhythm in the early parts of the second period. Brad Marchand made a hard pass to David Krejci in front of the net, but his deflection was smothered up by Braden Holtby. Besides the likes of Seguin and Peverley, the Bruins top forwards failed to perform at the level needed in order to help the team advance.
The black and gold continued to put shots on net, but failed to challenge Holtby like they needed to at this point of the game. Shots from both bad angles and the outside weren’t going to cut it against a young goaltender playing too a high level.
Then the home team finally broke through. An absolutely tremendous effort by Tyler Seguin and Lucic got the Bruins back on the Board. Lucic made body contact behind the Washington net, forced the turnover, and Seguin used all his strength to bury home the rebound. A Johnny Boychuk “Johnny Rocket’ blasted through Holtby’s glove, which allowed Seguin to score the goal.
The third period consisted mostly of tight, defensive play. There were some chances, including a failed Bruins man-advantage with two minutes to go in the period, but Game seven headed to OT tied at 1. Another failed Bruins power-play would be the turning point in this game.
Just 2:57 into OT, Joel Ward scored for the Washington Capitals to end the Bruins season.
Benoit Pouliot tried to dump the puck into the offensive zone, but Mike Knuble (former Bruin) blocked the attempt, and took the puck strong to the net with Ward on the opposite wing. Thomas originally stopped Knuble’s close-up chance, but the rebound was backhanded in by Ward to end the game. Knuble did a good job standing in front of the net, limiting Thomas’s chances to save the rebound attempt.
Overall, the Bruins didn’t seem to have enough left in the tank- not enough scoring touch, physicality, emotion, and a struggling power-play that really hurt their chances.
Moving forward it will be interesting to see what happens with Tim Thomas, the bottom pairing defensemen, and how they try to fix the miserable man-advantage. The Bruins have money to spend, lets see what they do with it.
From The Room: