Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates after scoring a goal on the power play in the second period of game four in the first round of the NHL playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Alex Ovechkin did what Alex Ovechkin does, scores. The future Hall of Fame goal scorer ended the Boston Bruins (5-1-2) comeback bid just 28 seconds into overtime when his wrist-shot beat Tuukka Rask (19 saves) blocker side high. The Washington Capitals (6-0-3) have yet to lose in regulation thus far and sit atop the East Division with 15 points. Ovechkin’s winner was his 24th career OT goal, an NHL record.
It was Ovechkin’s first game back since January 19, after violating COVID protocol. For Boston, it was the return of David Pastrnak after off-season hip surgery.
It was also the Bruins first game, taking the ice against former captain Zdeno Chara. Chara spent 16 seasons with the Bruins leading the franchise to three Stanley Cup Finals, including hoisting the Cup in 2011.
The Bruins outshot their hosts 43-23 throughout the game and carried play for a good portion of the action, but Washington built up a 3-0 lead through the first thirty minutes.
Nicklas Backstrom kicked off the Capitals scoring at 18:06. Backstrom was in on Charlie McAvoy one-on-one when he fired a wrister past Rask high glove side. Backstrom used McAvoy as a screen as he shot from the high slot to net his fifth goal of the year.
Trevor van Riemsdyk added to the Caps lead at 5:22 of the second period. van Riemsdyk wristed a shot through traffic in front of the Bruins goal that found its way past Rask. The goal was van Riemsdyk’s first of the year and was assisted by Brenden Dillon and Backstrom.
Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton hit the iron with a shot from the blue line. Other than that, Caps goalie Vitek Vanecek (40 saves) was turning back everything Boston threw his way.
A Hooking call on David Krejci at 8:39 put the Capitals on the man advantage. Richard Panik made it count when he tipped a Tom Wilson shot past Rask to make it 3-0 at 10:03. The goal was Panik’s first of the season and Washington’s ninth straight goal. The Caps stormed back from 3-0 to beat the New York Islanders 6-3 their last game.
Boston finally got on the board with Garnet Hathaway off for Interference. Nick Ritchie continued his power-play prowess when a Krejci shot from the blue line ricocheted off Patrice Bergeron and Ritchie past Vanecek to make it 3-1.
At 6:03 of the third, the Bruins cut the deficit to one when Brad Marchand roofed a McAvoy pass top corner over Vanecek’s blocker. A Caps icing led to the goal coming off a face-off win by Bergeron. One of the best centermen in the NHL, Bergeron passed back to McAvoy. McAvoy carried the puck down low and dished to Marchand.
Boston capped off the comeback attempt at 19:02 on McAvoy’s tying goal. With Rask on the bench for the extra attacker, McAvoy fired a shot from the top of the left circle that was blocked, but the 23-year-old defenseman followed up the play to poke the puck towards the net. McAvoy swatted the loose puck past Vanecek for his first goal of the season.
In overtime, the Capitals maintained possession of the puck from the opening face-off before Ovechkin worked his magic.
The two teams play again on Monday at 7:00 pm at Capital One Arena.