April 12, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (44) talks with goalie Tim Thomas (30) during the second period against the Washington Capitals in game one of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
All it takes is one.
There were big hits (most of them involving Dennis Seidenberg, Alex Ovechkin or Marcus Johansson), minor injuries (Matthieu Perreault took a Shawn Thornton wrist shot to the knee and missed a couple of shifts) and incredible goaltending on the part of reigning Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and rookie Braden Holtby, who made his playoff debut on Thursday night at TD Garden.
But it was Holtby, who saw just one shot in overtime, the first shot of Chris Kelly's night, on his first shift of the extra frame, that let in the one goal in the game at 1:18 of overtime, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Kelly had arguably the Bruins best chance of the came in the third period when he drove around his check to the Washington net, got Holtby down and out of position but lost the puck as he crossed the crease. The puck found its way to Benoit Pouliot, who couldn't settle it enough to take advantage of the open cage.
But Pouliot and Kelly both redeemed themselves in overtime, Pouliot with a beauty of a pass to the streaking Kelly, who got past Dennis Wideman and into open ice and ripped a slapshot past Holtby.
Holtby will be the talk of the town for the next few days, but that would be a disservice to Thomas, who - despite facing only 17 shots all night - was absolutely superb when Boston needed him most, namely when Zdeno Chara was in the box for cross-checking Brooks Laich at 3:12 in the third period.
To be sure, Thomas got lucky, too; one of his blocks trickled out the back of the crease and just along the skirt of the goal, narrowly missing the net by a matter of inches. But hockey is a game of inches, and at the end of the day, the Bruins got them when they needed them.
Holtby was playing Kelly well on the game-winning goal, taking away the short side and forcing the Bruins' center to beat him wide, but he went down too quick, exposing the top corner of the net and Kelly put it right where he needed to.
It was a heart-wrenching mistake from a guy who hadn't made any all night long. Not that Boston forced him into anything, as the Bruins took a lot of shots at Holtby's chest and struggled to get traffic in front of the net all night long.
But all it took was one. And when the night was over, it was the usually stoic Kelly - uncharacteristically circling the ice with his arms raised - who lit the one lamp that mattered all night.
It was 1-0 Boston then. That will only last for 40 more hours or so.
But right now, that one is all that matters.