The Boston Bruins dropped Game 1 of their first round series against the Washington Capitals in overtime, with Nic Dowd netting the winner at 4:41 in the extra frame, setting the final score at 3-2. It was a rough game for the Bruins, as it felt like they were going through the motions for most of the contest, and never really got a foothold in the game. Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie scored the two goals for Boston, and Tuukka Rask was on his game for the most part, but the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on the Capitals less than ideal goalie situation, and took a tough loss to open the series.
The first period was a pretty even affair, with the Capitals outshooting Boston 11-7. The Caps drew first blood after Charlie McAvoy’s stick broke on an offensive possession, leading to a fast break for the Capitals, which Tom Wilson would end up burying after passing around a stickless McAvoy. The Bruins would tie it up off a snapshot goal from Jake DeBrusk, as he quickly snatched up a loose faceoff and fired it into the exposed bottom left corner. Vitek Vanecek was injured trying to make the save, and was replaced by the 39 year old Craig Anderson. It felt like the Caps had control for most of the period as they had more zone time and shots than Boston. They also got two huge penalty kills, as Boston struggled to get anything going on their power play.
The second period was more of the same, as Washington controlled the play for the most part and outshot the Bruins 11-9. The Caps would strike first again this period, with Brenden Dillon scoring from the blue line on a shot that appeared to take a huge deflection off of Jeremy Lauzon’s stick. Lauzon would find himself in the box shortly after for a cross check on Alex Ovechkin, but the Bruins pulled off a huge penalty kill to keep the deficit at one. After Bergeron hit the post on a shot somehow didn’t find it’s way in, the Bruins would go to the power play, where Nick Ritchie would deflect in a shot from David Pastrnak to tie the game back up. The Caps nearly converted a last second rush, but Lars Eller hit the post, and the score went into the third knotted at two.
That set the stage for the third period, and the game opened up drastically. Both teams had long stretches in the other’s zone, which led to a number of good opportunities on both sides. The Bruins forecheck applied a lot more pressure in this period, which led to more zone time than in previous periods. The Bruins missed out on another power play opportunity early in the period, but rather than wilting away, their intensity increased drastically afterwards. Despite this, neither team scored in the period, setting the stage for some overtime hockey right off the bat.
The overtime period didn’t last too long, as Washington netted another deflection goal about five minutes into the period. It went how pretty much the rest of the game went, where the Bruins failed to get much zone time, and Washington dictated the play. They ran a quick transition from defense to offense, and T.J. Oshie ripped a shot towards net that Nic Dowd redirected into Rask’s chest, but ended up rolling down his chest through his five hole, and right into the net. It was another unlucky bounce that Rask really couldn’t do too much about, which was fitting on a night where a Bruins shot hit the post, bounced off the goalie, and still didn’t find it’s way into the goal.
The Bruins really missed a golden opportunity to jump out to a quick lead, especially with Vanecek going out early in this one. They really struggled to generate much offensively, and failed to truly challenge Craig Anderson for much of the contest. The Capitals did a great job of intercepting passes and keeping the Bruins offense off balance for the most part, and they struggled to put pucks on the net for the most part. And on the other hand, the Bruins couldn’t keep Washington out of their own zone, and allowed Washington to apply pressure on Rask all night long.
Speaking of golden opportunities, what about four power play opportunities that only resulted in one goal? The Bruins power play looked awful for most of the night, and were lucky to even get a goal off one of them. They barely got the puck in the Capitals zone when they had a man advantage, and when they did, they failed to hold it there for very long. The Caps are playing aggressive, and there will certainly be more power play opportunities as the series progresses, so it’s important for them to work on improving their play in that area.
Overall, the Caps aggressive play felt like it took the Bruins by surprise, and they couldn’t match it on the night. They tried to respond at various points in the game, but those spurts were short lived and proved to be futile. Their forecheck was much more aggressive than Boston’s as well, and while Boston upped the ante towards the end of the third period, they didn’t generate nearly enough pressure to challenge Anderson in net. The Bruins are going to have to come out firing in Game 2 in order to get back in this series. Game 2 is on Monday night at 7:30, and the Bruins will need a big game to keep themselves in this series.
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