BOSTON — Despite being outshot 30-17 in their 1-0 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 1, the Washington Capitals blocked several shots and frustrated the Black and Gold before Chris Kelly’s game-winner.
The Caps had that same strategy for Game 2 Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden. Despite some luck on Benoit Pouliot’s goal midway through the third period, they, too, got a few bounces that included Nicklas Backstrom’s game-winner 2:56 into double overtime, and came away with a 2-1 victory to even their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at a game apiece.
“I got a great pass from Marcus [Johansson] there,” said Backstrom, who scored his goal despite Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron winning a faceoff in his own end. “I was trying to get it on net and I think the puck was wobbling a little bit, so I don’t know if it changes direction or whatever.
“It was nice to see it go in, because I was kind of tired there.”
With the way this series has gone so far with stellar goaltending from both Braden Holtby (43 saves in Saturday’s win) and Tim Thomas (37 saves in the loss) it might indeed take a little puck luck to beat these two netminders going forward, especially for Holtby, who has made 72 saves in his first two career postseason starts.
“He’s done a good job,” Bergeron said about Washington’s 22-year old goalie. “But that being said, it’s about us making his job harder and tougher and finding the puck for the rebounds and the ugly goals.”
Through the first two contests, the Caps defense forced the Bruins to take shots from the perimeter. While Holtby’s been great, he’s also benefited from the blocked shots with the D in front of him.
That’s not to say the Bruins haven’t done a good job in front of Thomas, especially allowing 56 shots in nine periods of hockey. But rather, it’s a testament of Boston needing to get more bodies in front of the net to help generate chances for greasy goals.
“It was outstanding. I don’t think we even gave up an odd man rush or a two-on-one all game.” Holtby said about his defense. “That’s a huge thing. That means everyone is committed. Blocked shots like crazy again just like we did in Game 1.”
“We’re playing a pretty good defensive game,” said Thomas. “We find ways to generate more offense without sort of giving up anything defensively.
“We’re going to have to get some ugly goals. The screens, tips, rebounds, [that] kind of deal,” Thomas continued. “And it’s hard because they’re blocking a lot of shot, but we’ve got to figure out a way to get it done.”
The Caps and Bruins each have two goals through two games. Both teams are also looking to breakthrough in the scoring department.
But for Washington, getting a win before the series shifts to the Verizon Center for Game 3 Monday night could perhaps spark them in front of their fanbase.
“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 — feels really good,” said Johansson. “…You play for so long out there, you just want to try to be at the right spots and make the right plays. I think everybody did that tonight and it’s a really big team win.”