The Boston Bruins topped the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Sunday night to close their opening-round series 4-1. The Bruins got two goals from captain Patrice Bergeron and one from David Pastrnak. Tuukka Rask turned back forty shots in earning playoff victory number 55.
The Capitals controlled long stretches of the play throughout the game. In the opening period, they were added by three power plays. The Bruins penalty kill has been a strength for years, but in this series, they put a lid on an explosive Washington power play, 0-4 on Sunday (3-21 series).
The first period was pretty even as Washington outshot Boston 10-9.
Pastrnak put the Bruins on the board first at 2:28 of the second period with a highlight-reel goal. Pastrnak took a Mike Reilly pass just inside the Capitals zone and deked Caps forward Nick Dowd with a through his legs self pass. The 24-year-old forward then acted as if he was going behind the net before shifting out front to deke out goalie Ilya Samsonov (16 saves) at the far post.
Bergeron netted the first of his two at 14:05 when he back-footed a snapshot past Samsonov from the high slot. Pastrnak started the play when he intercepted a Capitals clearing attempt in the neutral zone. Pastrnak was hit, but the puck fell to Riley, who dished to a wide-open Bergeron at the middle of the blue line. Bergeron walked into the zone unimpeded before firing the shot for the two-goal lead.
The Capitals had outshot the Bruins 20-4 for the second period, but Rask was a wall.
Washington came out in the third, knowing it was do-or-die time, and wasted no time in getting back into the game. Conor Sheary gave the Caps life just eleven seconds into the period when he followed up his own rebound by beating Rask top corner to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Bruins fell back into a defensive shell as Washington continued to turn up the heat. However, Bergeron put some distance between the two teams with his second goal of the night at 12:25.
Boston’s transition game put the Caps on their heels. Bergeron picked up a T.J. Oshie rebound in front of Rask and hit Pastrnak on the breakout. The Caps turned away Pastrnak and Brad Marchand‘s two-on-two bid, but the trailing Bergeron picked off a poor clearing attempt by Oshie and sniped his third postseason goal over the right shoulder of Samsonov.
The Bruins await the winner of the New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins series. That series is tied at 2-2. The next two games are Monday in Pittsburgh and Wednesday on Long Island. If necessary, game seven will be Friday in Pittsburgh.