April 19, 2012

Holtby's 44 saves lead Caps to 2-1 win in Game 4

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Washington 2, Boston 1

Recap: After falling behind in the opening two minutes on a goal by Marcus Johansson, the Bruins absolutely dominated the remainder of the first period. They were finally rewarded for their territorial dominance at 13:12 when Rich Peverley tickled the twine for the second straight game, tying things up at 1-1.

In the second, the B’s came out storming, outshooting Washington 10-2. But a wildly dangerous, though unsuccessful, power play in which the Caps put five shots on goal kicked them into high gear. They took advantage of a bizarre hooking call on Patrice Bergeron, scoring on the PP with 1:17 left in the middle frame to go ahead 2-1.

Boston held a 13-3 edge in the third but fumbled umpteen chances, electing time and time again to pass instead of shoot when the shot was there. Braden Holtby stood tall when needed, finishing the night with a superb line of 44 saves on 45 shots.

Series: Bruins and Capitals tied 2-2

Key Play of the Game: You could insert just about any close call in this spot. That summed up the entire evening for the Bruins. If forced to pick one, we’ll go with a shift late in the third period when Milan Lucic was set up for a wide-open shot in between the tops of the circles. The puck skipped right past his stick and sailed off into the neutral zone.

Connolly’s Commendations: Nineteen saves might not sound like the night of a lifetime, but Tim Thomas made some absolutely phenomenal saves in this one. While Holtby got peppered with a lot highly-stoppable shots, it seemed as though everything thrown Thomas’ way had a good chance of finding the back of the net.

I’m sick of praising Braden Holtby, so we’re just going to skip past him. Kid’s good. End of story.

Gotta hand it to Rich Peverley for his solid performance from start to finish. No. 49 had a goal, three shots, two blocks and was buzzing all night. Shy of an unlucky slashing penalty, he played flawlessly.

Connolly’s Critiques: There’s a separate article coming your way on this matter soon, but it would’ve been nice if any one of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand or Lucic got on the score-sheet tonight. Bergeron’s assist in Game 3 remains the only point the five forwards have accounted for through four freakin’ games.

Greg Campbell won 4-of-16 faceoffs on the night. ‘Nuff said.

Notes:  The Bruins outshot the Capitals by a 45-21 margin tonight. It was the most shots taken by Boston in a non-overtime playoff game since they took 45 in Florida on Apr. 17, 1996. The B’s are 16-13 in best-of-seven series tied 2-2.

Final Thoughts: After turning a corner in the third period of Game 3, then owning the Capitals for the first half of Game 4, things were looking up for the Black and Gold. But they suddenly fell back into bad habits, stopped getting good traffic in front, couldn’t cash in if their lives depended on it and botched a chance to come home with a 3-1 series lead.

Next: The Bruins and Caps will return to action on Saturday at 3 o’clock for Game 5 at TD Garden.

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