BOSTON, Ma– They had been here before. They knew how to handle this situation. They had the experience. They had the talent. They had home-ice advantage. It simply wasn’t enough.
For the first time in four seasons, the Boston Bruins were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs, becoming the second straight defending Stanley Cup champion to fall in the first round of their title defense.
It was former-Nashville playoff hero Joel Ward who would strike the dagger into the heart of the 17, 565 Black and Gold clad fans on hand at the TD Garden on Wednesday evening with his first goal of the postseason at the 2:37 mark of overtime. Ironically enough, it was former-Bruin Mike Knuble who would block a Benoit Pouliot dump-in attempt and proceed up the ice to create a scoring chance for Washington. The 31-year-old Ward would make no mistake about it, ending the Bruins’ season with one back-handed flip of the puck into an open Boston goal.
“I went for a change and Knubs (Mike Knuble) made a big block there and I assumed we had a little bit of a break up ice so try to take a chance and I knew he was going to take it to the rack and I just tried to follow it up as best as I could. You know, I just saw the puck laying there and I just took a whack at it and it went in.” – Joel Ward
Things didn’t get off to the start the Bruins had hoped for after a Milan Lucic defensive zone turnover would lead to an open chance from the point for John Carlson. The Natick, MA native fired a wrist shot through a crowd that would be deflected by another former-Bruin, Matt Hendricks, into the Boston net.
In typical Boston fashion, the Black and Gold would not go down without a fight. Late in the second period, it would be game six hero Tyler Seguin who would push home the game-tying goal after diving for a loose puck that had slipped through Washington goaltender Braden Holtby and pushing it into the net.
“I tried going in front of the net and I actually fell and Johnny (Boychuk) shot. I kind of saw the puck laying there so I just dove in and whacked it with my stick.” – Tyler Seguin
After a third period in which the B’s were out-shot 12-6 and the city of Boston held it’s collective breath with each Capitals’ shot, the defending champions were served a gift on a silver platter. With just 2:26 left in regulation, Jason Chimera was banished to the penalty box for holding, and the Bruins had themselves an opportunity to end the series with a power-play goal.
“When you talk about tonight, that’s probably the most frustrating part of our game, was that power play that could have ended the series and the game……. Your power play can win you hockey games, and tonight it didn’t.” — Claude Julien
If there was ever a position in which a struggling power-play could erase all it’s previous woes, it was right then and there. Unfortunately for Boston, the man advantage was once again ineffective, producing zero high quality scoring chances throughout the entire two minutes.
Just one minute into the overtime period, the B’s had yet another chance to end the game – and the series – on their terms, when a loose puck bounced directly onto the stick of Patrice Bergeron who was staring directly at a yawning Washington goal.
“It kind of exploded – just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasn’t a lot of time and the puck wouldn’t settle.” – Patrice Bergeron
Uncharacteristically, number 37 sent it wide of the net, allowing the Capitals to convert on a scoring chance of their own just ninety-seven seconds later. The loss marks Boston’s third home-ice defeat in a game seven over the past four seasons as the 2011 Champions have been sent to summertime much earlier than they had envisioned.
“It’s hard to swallow, tough to understand right now. I think obviously it’s going to take us a couple of days to sink that one in, we obviously weren’t ready for being done right now.” – Patrice Bergeron
– I’ll be back on Thursday and Friday with more fallout from this series and a disappointing end to the Boston season. Locker clean-out day is slated for Friday morning. Be sure to check back then for player reaction and analysis.
Ben’s Three Stars:
2) Tyler Seguin (1 Goal/7 Shots)
3) Braden Holtby (31 Saves)
Series: Washington WINS 4-3
Thanks For Reading!
About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. 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.