The Boston Bruins took game one of the Eastern Conference quarter finals from the Caps in a dramatic overtime win. Despite lopsided shot totals, the Capitals hung tough due in large part to the in net heroics of Brayden Holtby.
Things looked bad indeed for the Caps through the first two periods as the Bruins outshot them by and astounding twenty-six to seven margin. In addition, Boston was the far more physical of the two teams, using their sturdy forecheck to establish lengthy offensive zone pressure. Brayden Holtby, playing in his first NHL playoff game, was simply spectacular, turning aside every shot he faced. If he can maintain such a level of play for the duration of the series, Washington could present Boston with a real problem. For however great Holtby was, the Caps’ defense was equally so. Taking a page from the New York Rangers’ book, they flew all over the defensive zone, throwing their bodies in front of everything that looked like it might hurt. Blocked shots are often a critical statistic come playoff time and the Caps’ defense looks to be committed.
The offense, however, left something to be desired. What few chances the Caps had through the first two periods were easily turned aside by Boston’s Tim Thomas, rendering Washington unable to establish any consistent zone pressure. The third period saw Washington’s offense improve significantly. Though unable to score, they put nine shots on Thomas and, more importantly, kept the Bruins in their own end of the ice. Setting the tone for a good series, game one’s scoreless end to regulation brought up the second overtime of these young playoffs.
Each team would register a single shot in the short overtime period with Boston’s Chris Kelly finding the back of the net at 1:18. The game winning tally was obviously his first of the playoffs (assists: Benoit Pouliot, Brian Rolston).
The goaltenders were easily the stars of game one, each executing their jobs to near perfection. While Hotlby’s twenty-nine save performance speaks for itself, Tim Thomas came up big for his team when he was asked to, making a critical save on Alex Ovechkin in the third period to keep the game scoreless. The series’ first game was a hard fought, highly physical affair that should set up an absolute whale of a game two.