By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
Game one didn’t go as planned for the Boston Bruins in real life or my previous game simulation. Even with the Capitals starting goaltender going down with an injury, the first line couldn’t really muster up any offense, and the Capitals took the game in overtime on a fluke goal that trickled off the back of Rask’s stick and between his legs.
Before we get into the NHL21 game simulation of game two, though, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the simulation got right about game one. The simulation predicted a 4-2 Capitals victory, and in reality, we saw them win 3-2 in overtime. So, the simulation got the scoreline wrong by one goal, but it also didn’t predict an overtime game. The simulation also correctly predicted that Tom Wilson would score a goal in game one.
The game two simulation was an interesting one. Washington opened up the goal scoring in the first period after a back and forth period where neither team could breakthrough. With about three and a half minutes left in the period, Nicklas Backstrom took a pass from Connor Sheary and tucked it past Tuukka Rask’s blocker to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
The game remained 1-0 for a lot of the game, as the second period saw no scoring from either team. The Bruins did get some of the momentum back in the second period, however. They successfully killed off a penalty and got a power-play of their own in the middle frame of the game. They were unable to capitalize on their man advantage, though, so the team headed into the third period with the same score as they finished the first.
With the Bruins trying to mount a comeback, Lars Eller stepped up for the Capitals. The Bruins failed to protect the slot again on this goal, and this time it was Anthony Mantha who slid a puck right through the center of the ice, and Eller was able to snap the puck into the net before Rask could get back in position. Unfortunately for Bruins fans, it looked like the B’s were going down two games to none against the Capitals.
Brad Marchand had other ideas, though. He wasn’t ready to let the team go down without a fight, and just a minute and a half after Eller’s goal, he snapped a shot into the top shelf of Washington’s net to cut the Washington lead to one. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the first line was nowhere to be found in game one, but hopefully, the simulation gets this prediction right, and the first line shows up for game two.
With just under five minutes left in the game, Jake DeBrusk, who scored in the real-life game one, tied up the game at two and gave the Bruins a chance to steal a game on Washington’s home ice. For DeBrusk, who had a really rough regular season, a clutch performance in these playoffs could save his stock for Bruins fans ahead of this summer’s expansion draft.
The simulation now predicts that there will be two straight overtime games because nobody scored after the DeBrusk goal, so the game needed an extra frame. In the extra period, the hero ended up being someone who played well in game one but couldn’t quite find the net. I am referring to Taylor Hall, who won the virtual game for the Bruins less than five minutes into overtime. On a powerplay, the former MVP walked down the Capitals’ slot and fired the puck past the goalie’s glove to tie the series up at one.
Final Score: Bruins 3 – Capitals 2 (OT)
As a diehard fan, I am really hoping the simulation gets this one correct. Ideally, the Bruins would get it done in regulation because I’m sure we’d all like to avoid the stress of another overtime game. If the choice is between an overtime win and any kind of loss, though, I’m sure we’d all choose the OT win. Game two is Monday, May 17, at 7:30 pm. Hopefully, the Bruins come ready to play.