BOSTON– After participating in a whopping 190 games since the start of the 2010-’11 season, the Boston Bruins were undoubtedly hoping for a quick and easy first round series as they began their first Stanley Cup championship defense since 1973. Unfortunately for the B’s, that dream seems to have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Falling 2-1 in double overtime on home ice in game two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Washington Capitals, the Black and Gold now find themselves deadlocked 1-1 as the series heads south to our nation’s capital.
It was Swedish superstar Nicklas Backstrom who would play the hero role at the 2:56 mark of the second overtime period, capitalizing on a Boston defensive zone turnover and firing a wrist shot past B’s goaltender Tim Thomas to send the Caps to their first victory of this postseason.
Early on, it seemed as if game number two was simply a continuation of game one that took place in Boston on Thursday. Both squads were looking to set the tone through the same type of physical play that defined the series opener.It wasn’t until the 17:57 mark of the second period that the first regulation time goal of the series would find it’s way home.
In one of the most fluky incidents of the season thus far, the Capitals would strike first, attaining their first lead of the series after Troy Brouwer was able to poke a loose puck underneath Tim Thomas and into the Boston goal. Brouwer’s first tally of the postseason would be the first playoff goal surrendered by Thomas since a Max Lapierre marker in the third period of Game 6 during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
The B’s were able to tie the score just past the mid-point of the third period when some hard work and hustle from Benoit Pouliot would result in the Alfred, Ontario native’s first career playoff goal. Pouliot out-raced both Capitals’ defenseman to a loose puck in front of netminder Braden Holtby and managed to flick it into the top shelf of the Washington net.
“I think he (Braden Holtby) tried to poke-check, too, at the same time and I took a whack at it and it ended up in the net. So, like I said, sometimes just put the puck or whack at it – you never know what’s going to happen and it ended up pretty good.” – Benoit Pouliot
For the final minutes of regulation and through an entire twenty-minute overtime period, neither team could find it’s way onto the scoresheet until Backstrom’s wrister in the early going of extra frame number two.
The two squads will depart for Washington on Sunday in preparation for Games 3 and 4, to be played on Monday and Thursday respectively. Returning home with a series split should undoubtedly provide the Capitals with a huge momentum boost, especially considering their incredible home ice record this season (26-11-4).
“It means a lot. Coming home 1-1 instead of 2-0 to the Verizon Center with our own fans and giving ourselves a really good chance at this, it feels really good.” – Marcus Johansson
– Leading the charge for the B’s through the first two games of this series has been the gritty third line trio of Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly and Brian Rolston. Not only has the third unit accounted for both Bruins’ goals in the series and each point accumulated, but it’s also proven it’s collective mettle on the defensive end of the ice. While they were the unfortunate group that were on the ice while the Caps scored their first goal, their collective commitment to defense helped neutralize Washington’s lethal second line (Semin—Backstrom—Johansson) whom they were matched up against for most of the night.
“They’ve been doing a good job for us. They scored our what, only two goals so far? So they’ve been doing a good job for us and we’ve just got to make sure to bear down on chances when we do get them.” – Johnny Boychuk
Ben’s Three Stars:
2) Nicklas Backstrom (1 Goal/Plus-1 Rating)
3) Benoit Pouliot (1 Goal)
Series: Tied 1-1
Next Game: Monday April 16, 2012. 7:30 PM. Verizon Center, Washington, DC.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.