The Boston Bruins have taken a stranglehold on the Washington Capitals in round one after defeating them 4-1 Friday night. The B’s now have a 3-1 series lead over the Caps after absolutely dominating Game 4. It was a complete effort from every part of the lineup in a game that was vitally important for both teams. From Washington’s perspective, a win tonight would have completely shifted the momentum in the series, bringing a 2-2 tie back home to D.C. with all of the momentum. But, thanks to a physical and talent-filled showing from the Bruins, all of the momentum belongs to the boys in the black and gold as they head back to Washington for a potential series clinching Game 5.
The Bruins may not have scored in the first, but they set the tone with lots of scoring opportunities, and lots of puck possession which is so important when playing a team like Washington that can get goals from anywhere in the lineup. This puck possession helped keep the Capitals offense at bay for a large majority of the period while only allowing four shots on goal. Team defense is something that has been very on and off for the Bruins all season, but when it’s on like it was tonight, they turn themselves into an extremely difficult team to play against.
It took 28 minutes for the Bruins to finally get on the board, but when they did, it seemed to drain some of the hope from the Capitals collective spirit. It was Brad Marchand who opened the scoring at 12:00 of the second period, on a masterful tip-in goal. The Bruins were on the power play after Dmitry Orlov was assessed a double minor for a high hit on Kevan Miller (more on that later), and the puck was sent to David Pastrnak who was positioned on the opposite side of where he usually stands on the power play. Pasta ripped a wrister on net, and Marchand deflected the shot between the five hole of Ilya Samsonov. With that goal, the Bruins seemed to swing all of the momentum in their favor.
After a strong finish to the period with no goals to show for, the Bruins came out with a fire lit under them in the third, scoring two goals in the first 1:03 of the third period. Once again, it was the first line coming through as David Pastrnak, who has been a disappointing playoff performer at times in his career, including the first 3 games of this series, finally got on the board with a snipe from the right wing faceoff circle. Then, it was Charlie Coyle with his first goal of the playoffs on a tap-in after Jake DeBrusk made a high effort play to keep the puck in front of the net for Coyle after he missed a breakaway opportunity. This goal seemingly took some of the wind out of the sails of the Caps, but Alex Ovechkin scored a one-time goal a few minutes later that appeared to deflect off the skate of Brandon Carlo.
Despite allowing this goal, the Bruins stayed strong and didn’t give the Caps an inch the rest of the period. Matt Grzelcyk would add a one-time goal of his own late in the period to give the Bruins a three goal lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Bad news first, Kevan Miller was sent to the hospital after taking a hit to the head. It was an unfortunate play for Miller who was blindsided after making a pass and certainly wasn’t expecting to be hit. Losing Miller is bad news for the Bruins who rely on him for his defensive play and physicality. An already thin defense will certainly suffer from his loss, and hopefully all is well for Miller and he isn’t facing anything serious.
With a 3-1 series lead, the Bruins have all the power heading into Game 5. After the performance the Bruins displayed tonight, they seem to have come together as a team. Not that they weren’t playing well to end the season, and they were, but they seem to have taken it to another level in round one. The re-emergence of David Pastrnak scoring goals is something that cannot be understated. Pasta has disappeared in the playoffs before along with the rest of the first line, but if he and his linemates are putting up goals while the secondary scoring continues to produce, the Bruins become an extremely dangerous team. The Bruins were one of the best goal scoring teams after the trade deadline which is proof that they have all the talent they need and more to go a long way in the playoffs. If the offense continues to show up in Game 5 and beyond, expect the series to end Sunday night.