Boston came out on FIRE for the first few minutes. Hits, quick movement, all the good stuff. Jake DeBrusk seemed to relish the opportunity to skate on the third line again, regardless of what wing he was on. Charlie Coyle also looked re-energized back at center, and Kevan Miller came out energized... and then promptly headed to the locker room. (Some foreshadowing here, for those of you who didn’t watch the game.)
Kevan Miller back on the ice.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 18, 2021
He only logged one shift in the first period after delivering this big hit on Daniel Sprong. pic.twitter.com/rinvKpKeBx
Coyle had a great turn off a neutral zone turnover, taken by Nick Ritchie. Coyle received the pass, pump-faked a shot adjustment (a la Jason Spezza, but no fake slapshot). Circling the net, Coyle laid the puck in the slot where Jake DeBrusk had taken Caps goalie Craig Anderson’s spot while he went looking for his jock strap in the rafters to his left. 1-0, Bruins, EARLY in the game!
The Caps responded, with a deflected shot sneaking up over Rask’s shoulder. Hard to fault him there; he was down for the shot on the ice and just wasn’t wide enough to stop the deflection, despite it hitting him in the numbers on his right sleeve. 1-1 game. (Also, enjoy DeBrusk’s goal again, if you so choose!)
Oshie tied it up. Assists to Ovechkin and Carlson.— p - Avs Goal! (@ThreadsOfGoals) May 18, 2021
Not long after, David Pastrnak read a lob pass out of the zone like a linebacker and gloved it down while still in the attacking zone. Once he settled the puck on his stick, he found Patrice Bergeron alone in the high slot, where he does not miss. 2-1, and still before the halfway point in the first.
Then, some scraps started to develop. Nic Dowd crushed Matt Grzelcyk in the corner, though the collision was partly Grizz’s fault as he was still stopping and leaning backwards when Dowd made contact. David Krejci took mild exception, but Dowd wasn’t about to listen to some Czech insults, so he started shoving Krech in the face and earned himself a roughing minor. Served, no harm done by Boston’s power play, as has become the norm.
Brad Marchand also took a roughing penalty, and though it could be argued that maybe he was accosted in the crease, I don’t think we can be surprised that he received that kind of treatment after hacking away at Anderson. After he’d been neutralized (and held down with a knee), though, he stood up and gutpunched (or nutpunched?) a Capital and was sent off for the minor.
Though the Caps’ second goal didn’t come on that power play, it came soon thereafter, having been able to set the tempo for a few minutes. Garnet Hathaway got credit for yet another deflected goal by the Caps against Boston. A seeing-eye shot, for sure, and one that Rask definitely couldn’t track on the way in.
As time wound down, Mike Reilly and Conor Sheary got super tangled and sent off as a result of a gloves-on shoving match.
Starting off a period with fresh ice and 4v4 play is honestly a GREAT measure of skill and pace. With the extra space, Boston was able to control some early chances, especially when Marchand did his thing and drove the right wing, spinning away from a couple stick checks.
Great to have Kevan Miller back in the game, too; he skated just one shift in the first, but returned to the bench and took an early shift to test out his body.
The Caps definitely were able to counter Boston’s early energy again, however. T.J. Oshie made an outstanding display of edgework and handles, and slipped a pass into the crease, though without a bona fide recipient to shoot it on net. The hitting was fairly evenly distributed, but most of them took place in the Bruins’ defensive zone, so it still looked as though the Caps’ physicality was hemming Boston in their own end.
A power play with just over six minutes played gave Boston a golden opportunity to retake the lead, but no dice. Passing was fluid but not just right, though a particularly dangerous sequence nearly resulted in Pasta’s first goal of this postseason.
He does seem like he’s been “gripping his stick too tight”, to turn a common phrase. Though he did make a great read to set up the goal for Bergeron in the first, Pastrnak was making blind passes left and right trying to make things happen on this PP and on several other shifts in this game as well.
Penalties started sprouting like traffic cones in Boston. First an interference on Clifton and an embellishing call on Tom Wilson, and then matching roughings on Marchand and Mantha after a punch, slash and a “sneaky” (and gentle, but illegal) high stick by Marchand. The 4v4 hockey this time was not nearly as Bruins-favored except for a 2-on-1 that saw Krejci try to feed Pastrnak, only to have the pass blocked in the slot. Then, Craig Smith and Nick Jensen were called for net-front shenanigans started by Jensen holding Smith by the leg, and then Smith retaliating when no call was made. There have been sillier holding penalties, but still, it wasn’t surprising how the matching calls developed.
Boston did seem to find some better movement to close out the second, but the extracurriculars need to take a backseat to hockey. Washington did a fine job distracting the B’s from assembling a coherent stretch of play.
Boston began the third by summarily shooting themselves in the foot, multiple times. Nick Ritchie took a silly penalty that was called as a rough, and was basically an errant interfering fist in to Oshie’s face. Then, pretty much immediately, Taylor Hall passed the puck to the Caps in the neutral zone and then tripped up the player he gave it to trying to get it back. Boston’s PK pairs were crushed - Curtis Lazar, Sean Kuraly, and Charlie McAvoy played two minutes shorthanded in less than five minutes of game time - and the Caps were able to take that momentum and jam it down Boston’s throat. A poor step-up from Kevan Miller gave them a 2-on-1 with Dmitri Orlov and Garnet Hathaway, the latter receiving the pass and firing it home top corner.
That simple yet debilitating sequence destroyed momentum for Boston, and it was apparent on their play for the middle part of the frame that they were tentative, the Caps were forcing them to make some simple mistakes, and the biggest problems for them were self-inflicted.
There was some time left in the game, and life left in Boston’s roster; the challenge then became how heavy Bruce Cassidy could lean on his top two lines. Marchand and Bergeron took substantial PK time as well, and the second line of Hall-Krejci-Smith was not flowing especially smoothly.
That is, until the three-minute-to-go mark. Seeking redemption for that turnover, Hall carried the puck up the left wing, managed to sidestep the Capitals defender, and walked almost straight to the net. Taking a rebound-designed shot, he watched as Craig Smith and Charlie McAvoy crashed Anderson’s crease while he circled the net, and stopped on the opposite post just as the puck bounced free on his forehand. A couple quick whacks, and Hall tied the game at three with a couple minutes left in regulation, giving the Bruins a little life.
Regulation ended tied, despite a golden opportunity by that guy we thought redeemed himself last game, Jake DeBrusk.
Brad Marchand wins it in overtime.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 18, 2021
What a feed from Matt Grzelcyk. pic.twitter.com/iKWwCWl8hr
A great keep in the attacking zone by Krejci, who slid the puck the full width of the ice to Grizz, who had time and space to set up Marchy’s one-time blast past Craig Anderson for the early OT win, just 40 seconds into the extra frame.
Clutch. Hall’s tying goal in regulation, extreme focus early in the extra frame, and going back to Boston with the series tied at one game apiece.
See you on Wednesday, kids!!