Thursday, April 19, 2012
Capitals Even The Series With 2-1 Win In Game 4
None of those guys has scored yet in the playoffs and it has added up to a whole lot of frustration as the Capitals beat the Bruins 2-1 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight at Verizon Center. The series now shifts back to Boston for Game 5, tied at two games apiece.
Showing how tight it's been: every game has been decided by a goal, neither team has led by more than one at any point and they have both scored seven goals.
With Nicklas Backstrom-Washington's best all-around player-suspended tonight, the B's missed a major opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Instead, they made Braden Holtby (44 saves) look like the best goaltender in the world. The truth was that without getting much net front traffic or players going hard to the cage, the B's didn't have that many great opportunities despite piling up the gaudy shot total.
In Game 3, it seemed like Boston had solved Holtby by scoring four goals, while also gaining control of the series. That proved to be a fluke as the Bruins scored one goal for the third time in four games.
Marcus Johansson (1st of the playoffs) gave Washington a 1-0 lead only 1:22 into the 1st period. After Andrew Ference fell over and Zdeno Chara got caught in the neutral zone, Brooks Laich and Johansson skated in on Tim Thomas (19 saves) for a 2-on-1. Thomas had no chance to stop it as Laich threw a perfect forehand sauce pass to Johansson that he roofed.
Rich Peverley (2nd of the playoffs) answered later in the frame after a 2-on-1 rush for Boston. Gregory Campbell had the assist as Peverley juked a defenseman and beat Holtby through his five-hole.
In the extended time between Games 3 and 4 (2 days), Washington whined constantly about calls. Not surprisingly, they "earned" the first three power-plays of the night. The Bruins were able to kill the first two but after Patrice Bergeron was whistled for a bogus hooking penalty, Alexander Semin (2nd of the playoffs) made them pay late in the second period. Waltham's Keith Aucoin and Alex Ovechkin had the assists but truthfully it was all Semin's work since he just ripped a snipe into the top far corner. Goals like that make you remember how wildly talented but so underachieving he can be.
Boston had one power-play, midway through the third period and they couldn't convert, meaning that they dropped to 0-12 in the series so far with the man advantage.
I'm not ready to say that Game 5 at TD Garden (3 p.m., Saturday) is a must-win for the Black and Gold but that's not too far off. They have to find a way to score goals and likewise, they need the aforementioned invisible stars to show up. They just have to play their physical, hard-nosed game and make sure to crash the net while using the emotion that is sure to be in the building with their home crowd. Otherwise, they'll be in serious trouble down 3-2 and headed back to D.C. on Sunday.
Whether it means inserting Jordan Caron, Mike Mottau (for Joe Corvo) or Adam McQuaid (although I don't think he's healthy enough) into the lineup or shifting Chris Kelly or Brian Rolston (two of their better forwards in the series) up a line or two, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bruins head coach Claude Julien throw some different wrinkle at the Capitals on Saturday. Why not? It's clear that this current group isn't doing nearly enough against an opponent that's honestly not that good, one that they should handle way more easily.