April 16, 2012

Chara's late goal lifts Bruins to 4-3 win over Caps in Game 3

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 4, Washington 3

Recap: In what would best be described as a mediocre opening period for the B’s, the Bruins fell behind with four minutes to go until the intermission when Alex Semin’s shot went through Andrew Ference’s legs and past Thomas via the netminder’s five-hole to put Washington ahead 1-0.

In the second, Rich Peverley’s first of the playoffs knotted things up, as Holtby let a long-distance snap shot in from the top of the left circle. The two teams stayed tied for just 13 seconds, as Alex Ovechkin broke in down the down right side and fired a shot that redirected off Dennis Seidenberg’s stick and past Thomas to make it 2-1. With 9:38 gone, a Greg Zanon shot from the point produced a rebound that Dan Paille pounced. He tucked a backhander past Holtby to tie things up 2-2.

At the 1:02 mark of the third, Brian Rolston banged in a rebound from close range and gave the Bruins their first lead of the series. But, with six minutes to go, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg lost sight of Brooks Laich and let the rugged forward slip behind them. He beat Thomas blocker side on a breakaway to make it 3-3.

With a series of penalties making play 4-on-4 in the closing minutes, Boston pushed to go back on top. A bomb by Chara appeared to deflect off defenseman Roman Hamrlik and past Holtby to make it 4-3 in favor of the Bruins. Thomas and Co. shut the door from there on out.

Series: Boston leads 2-1

Key Play of the Game: The game-winning goal was just so overwhelmingly indicative of the big improvement Boston made in the third game of the series. With a wealth of traffic in front of Holtby, the netminder not only didn’t have a clear glimpse at the puck. Seidenberg’s presence in front of him led directly to a deflection off Hamrlik that proved to be fatal for Washington.

Connolly’s Commendations: Chara’s blunder on Laich’s tying goal was a doozey, but the captain did way too much in this game to not earn a nice ovation. The 6-foot-9 d-man had a goal and two assists on the night to go along with seven hits (which only trailed Milan Lucic’s eight).

The third line continues to be Boston’s best trio of forwards. Rolston (goal) and Chris Kelly (assist) each extended their playoff point streak to three games. Linemate Benoit Pouliot may have been held without a point, but No. 67 was flying all night. Showing a wealthy of tenacity on every shift, Pouliot had two shots on goal and dished out five hits.

Connolly’s Critiques: Claude Julien mixed up his lines, with centers David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron flipping spots. While there were spurts of the two trios of forwards generating chances together, they were still collectively outshined by the bottom six forwards.

Notes: The Bruins own a 19-6 record in seven-game series they’ve led 2-1 but are only 12-14 in game fours of those series. Laich had three points in the setback, setting a new career high in the playoffs.

Final Thoughts: The Bruins made some big strides in Game 3, getting more traffic in front of Holtby and solving their blocked shots dilemma (they edged Washington 21-15 in that category). Still, one would feel more confident if Boston’s top six forwards simply did more tonight. Some of the production may have come from the top two lines, but hardly any of them had a great night. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and the B’s now have an opportunity to come back to Boston lead 3-1.

Next: Game 4 between the Bruins and Capitals will take place Thursday night down in Washington.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.