BOSTON, MA – Craig Smith‘s wraparound goal at 5:48 of double overtime was the difference in the Boston Bruins outlasting the Washington Capitals, 3-2, in front of 4,565 at TD Garden Game Three of their best-of-seven series. It’s the third straight overtime game between the two teams in the postseason. Boston leads two games to one.
Smith raced into the Capitals zone as goalie Ilya Samsonov and defenseman Justin Schultz were trying to settle the puck behind the net and start the breakout. The two Caps players had a miscommunication as Smith swiped the puck and beat Samsonov to send the Bruins bench storming onto the ice in celebration.
“I circled back into the zone. I don’t know if there was a miscommunication between them. It kind of looked like that,” said Smith. “I just jumped on it to see if I could create a little bit of a turnover there. And they gave me just enough time to do that. It was a great feeling any time you can end one like that.”
The Capitals and Bruins traded power play opportunities throughout the first period as each team had three penalties called against them. The Bruins had a fifty-five-second five-on-three power play as Zdeno Chara was called for Slashing at 13:18, then John Carlson was sent off for Delay of Game at 14:24 when he put the puck over the Washington glass on the penalty kill.
Samsonov (40 saves) was pivotal in keeping the Bruins off the score sheet as he turned back chance after chance. The rookie goalie had been out of the lineup since May 1 after entering COVID-19 protocol.
Boston outshot the Capitals 10-4 during the period. Washington only managed two shots on goal during their three first-period power plays.
Brad Marchand was called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct at 6:56 of the second period. Alex Ovechkin made the Bruins pay at 8:21 when he roofed an Anthony Mantha pass from behind the Bruins net. Ovechkin’s power-play goal was his first goal of the playoffs.
Taylor Hall quickly answered with a dazzling goal in front of Samsonov just fifty-six seconds later. Hall caught a Smith pass all alone down low and pirouetted his way in front of Samsonov before wiring the puck into the upper twine of the Capitals net.
“I’m starting to get some confidence goal scoring-wise,” said Hall. “That’s probably a good example of that.”
The Capitals regained the lead at 18:15 when Nick Dowd tipped a Garnet Hathaway shot past Tuukka Rask (35 saves). Boston turned over the puck at their blue line before Hathaway hit Dowd for the go-ahead goal.
Dowd was whistled for High-Sticking on McAvoy at 11:00 of the third period giving the Bruins their fifth and final power play of the evening. That’s all they would need.
Marchand evened up the score at 2-2 when he batted a rebound past Samsonov at 11:32. Patrice Bergeron and McAvoy assisted Marchand’s second goal of the postseason.
The Bruins controlled most of the first overtime period, outshooting the Caps 17-5. Samsonov turned aside a few bids from both McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk as Boston started to activate their defensemen more in the overtime period.
“We had a lot of good looks,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “And then obviously got a break at the end.”
“I think it’s going to be close games, and you’ve got to be comfortable playing in them,” added Cassidy. “Players have to know that little things matter, the details, and we got to make sure we keep sticking to ours.”
The two teams square off again for Game Four on Friday at 6:30 pm.