WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16: Daniel Paille #20 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
For the first time in three tries, the Boston Bruins put a crooked number up on Braden Holtby, and they did it by getting back to basics, frustrating the Washington Capitals in the process, winning the game 4-3 in front of 18,506 at the Verizon Center and taking a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Zdeno Chara scored the game-winning goal with 1:53 seconds remaining in the third period, just over four minutes after Brooks Laich had ruined the Bruins' first lead of the series after he snuck behind the Boston defense and scored on a breakaway.
It was a much-needed game for the Bruins, who had struggled with Washington's neutral zone trap and hadn't been able to generate the physical play that they're used to, scoring just one goal in each of the series' first two games. While Claude Julien mixed and matched his top-six forwards, Chris Kelly's line generated most of the offense, including Rich Peverley's first goal for Boston and Brian Rolston's third goal, which gave the Black and Gold their first lead of the series.
Chara's goal gave him three points on the night, the only Bruins player to register a multiple-point night on an evening when physical play led to tempers flaring.
Jason Chimera speared Brad Marchand in the nether regions during a stoppage in play in the third period, but it wasn't until later in the period that things got hot, as Milan Lucic and Matt Hendricks tried to drop the gloves, but the linesmen got in the way and wouldn't allow the two bruisers to exchange pleasantries.
But that didn't stop Karl Alzner from jumping in from behind and horse-collaring Lucic, throwing a few punches at the Vancouver native's head. Alzner, remarkably, wasn't penalized for being the third man in, a distinction which earned Pittsburgh's Craig Adams a one-game suspension earlier in the day.
It was a chippy, inconsistent game, aided in large part due to the officiating, which missed big penalties (Hendricks slashing Zdeno Chara near the head), handed out soft ones (Rich Peverley for hooking Alexander Semin, who flopped at initial contact) and completely missed obvious ones, like Alzner on Lucic.
But Boston battled through it all, displaying the toughness and resilience that's been one of their many trademarks over the past couple of years under Claude Julien, and they'll get an extra day off to enjoy their series lead.
Notes: Washington outshot Boston, 32-29; it was the first time the Caps outshot the Bruins in the series...Nicklas Backstrom received a match penalty at 20:00 of the third period for cross-checking Peverley; Backstrom will be suspended, pending a ruling from Commissioner Gary Bettman, per NHL Rule 21.2...Two of Boston's four goals came in 4-on-4 situations...the Bruins are still scoreless on the power play (0-for-11) on the series...Washington's first goal came on the power play, breaking an 0-for-5 drought