The Boston Bruins have emerged victorious after round one, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-1 Sunday night to clinch a 4-1 series victory. The Bruins went back to Washington Sunday evening, winners of three straight after the Caps took Game 1 in overtime. It would not be a cake walk of a game for the Bruins though, as Washington had more than twice as many shots on goal as Boston. They poured it on heavy for the majority of the game, especially in the second period, but after some great saves from Tuukka Rask and timely scoring from the perfection line, the Capitals proved to be no match for the now red hot Bruins.
Period 1 was an incredibly even match between the two teams who both seemed very aware of what was at stake. The Capitals obviously needed the win to keep their season alive, and the Bruins certainly didn’t want to give the Caps a game and let them back in the series.
The second period however, was quickly christened by a highlight reel goal from David Pastrnak who scored using what seems to be his favorite move, pulling the puck between his legs to avoid the defender. As many times as he does that, he will never fail to make a defender miss with that move as it is simply too elusive for a defender to stop.
Pasta’s goal was his second of the series and he seems to be gaining confidence which is a huge deal for the Bruins moving forward in the playoffs. The scoring was then continued by Patrice Bergeron who sniped a wrister past Ilya Samsonov from the high slot with just under 6 minutes left in the period.
The Bruins were outshot 20-4 in the second period, which to someone who didn’t watch the game would probably suggest that play was dominated by the Capitals. This wasn’t really the case however, as the Bruins defense did a phenomenal job of making sure the Caps weren’t allowed any high quality scoring chances. 20 shots is a lot for a period for sure, but there weren’t too many times where as a Bruins fan you really had to be nervous that the Capitals would get on the board. It’s a testament to how strong the Bruins defense can be when fully or mostly healthy. Despite missing Kevan Miller, Jarred Tinordi made for a great substitute, as he plays a similar defensive, gritty style to Miller, and he was essential tonight playing well for the defensive corps.
The Capitals broke through early in the third however, when Conor Sheary scored 11 seconds in on one of few defensive mishaps of the night for the B’s. Sheary followed up on his own rebound and potted the Capitals first goal of the night. It seemed that the Capitals were going to start their surge at the right time, but credit again to the Bruins defense, as well as Tuukka Rask who was once again terrific in net, as they shutdown the Caps for the rest of the game. Patrice Bergeron would score his second of the night for insurance late in the third, and the Bruins finished off the Capitals with a 3-1 victory.
Going into the first round, one of the main keys to beating the Caps was the play of Tuukka Rask, and Rask really came through for the team. After getting off to a shaky start in Game 1 giving up a soft goal in overtime, he proceeded to be an anchor in net giving up only seven goals in the next four games. His stats in the series were amazing, posting a 1.81 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. If Rask continues this play moving forward, the Bruins will be one step ahead of every team they play.
The team as a whole is really playing their best hockey at the perfect time. After ending the season 10-2-1, their hot play has carried right into the playoffs. The top line is producing as they should be and the depth scoring has been there so far. The bottom 6 has provided strength and eaten up important minutes, with the fourth line being especially strong in the defensive zone.
Moving forward, the Bruins will be playing either the New York Islanders or the Pittsburgh Penguins in round 2. That series is currently knotted at two apiece, so it could go either way, and allows the Bruins to get some time to rest up before another tough series kicks off. The Bruins matched up well with the Penguins in the regular season, but didn’t with the Islanders so ideally for this team, playing Pittsburgh would be better, but it’s never easy taking on Sidney Crosby in the playoffs, so certainly keep an eye on that series as it moves forward.