By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
Game four is often a pivotal game in a playoff series. Teams either can head to game five tied 2-2, leading or trailing 3-1, or there might be no game five in the case of a 4-0 sweep. The Bruins and all of us watching from home were hoping it would be the 3-1 lead variation for the B’s after tonight’s game against the Capitals. So far, every game has gone to overtime, but would game four follow the pattern?
The Bruins decided to start the second line for game four, and I like this strategy by Bruce Cassidy. In my opinion, the second line has been the best line so far. Taylor Hall has been the most influential player so far in this series, and Craig Smith obviously had the OT winner last game.
The Bruins clearly left their discipline at home in the first period, and maybe they need to work on line changes at practice. Almost instantly, they took a too many men penalty to give the Capitals an early power-play. Thankfully, they were able to kill that penalty, but they didn’t learn their lesson and were called for another penalty just five minutes later. The penalty kill stayed strong though, and they were able to keep the scoreless tie intact.
The Bruins turned around the momentum after their second penalty and started generating a lot of shots. Patrice Bergeron almost opened the scoring on a net-front scramble in which he attempted to swat a puck out of the air and into the net, but Ilya Samsonov was able to make a big save.
The Bruins continued to dominate the first period, and they were rewarded with a power-play of their own at the end of the period. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the period, Charlie Coyle ripped a shot off the left post and did not get a friendly bounce into the net. It would have been a great boost for the Bruins, who went into the period tied when they really deserved to be leading.
End of First Period: Bruins 0 – Capitals 0
First Period Shots: Bruins 11 – Capitals 4
The man advantage for the Bruins carried over to the second period, but they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. A little over five minutes into the period, Taylor Hall used his incredible speed to get behind the Capitals’ defensemen and earned himself a great scoring chance. Samsonov went into the splits to stop Hall and appeared to be hurt on the play. However, he stayed in the game, but the Capitals’ goaltending roller coaster nearly took another turn in this series.
Controversy struck just minutes later when Dmitry Orlov launched himself into Kevan Miller, who went down hard and appeared to hit his head on the ice. Orlov was originally assessed a major penalty, but after review was given a minor for the hit, as well as an additional minor for a scrum that ensued as a result. In my opinion, a minor was a bit lenient for the hit, which was late in addition to Orlov leaving his feet.
This time the Bruins did make the most of their man advantage. The struggling David Pastrnak controlled the puck on the right side of the ice rather than his usual left half-wall. He fired a shot towards Samsonov’s blocker and Brad Marchand stationed in front of the net was able to redirect it past the Capitals’ goaltender. Marchand is certainly making his case for an early Conn Smythe candidate with his third goal of the series.
After the questionable hit, the game got chippy. Both teams increased their physicality, and players in both sweaters were flying into hits and making sure no one who touched the puck would be unpunished. The Bruins took a few more penalties but were able to kill them with a few big saves from Tuukka Rask.
As Patrice Bergeron exited the penalty box after a delay-of-game penalty, Anthony Mantha took an interference penalty that caused a scrum to break out. The Bruins got a couple of nice chances quickly in their power-play but were unable to score before time ran out in the second period.
End of Second Period: Bruins 1 – Capitals 0
Second Period Shots: Bruins 12 – Capitals 9 (Total Shots: BOS 23 – WAS 13)
Because they couldn’t score at the end of the second, the Bruins opened up the third period on a power-play. David Pastrnak finally got the monkey off his back this time, as he shot a rocket into the bottom left corner to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Hopefully, this breaks the metaphorical dam for Pastrnak, who needs to play a key role for the Bruins if they are going to make a big run this year.
The Bruins weren’t done there though! Just 34 seconds later, Jake DeBrusk broke away for a great chance, and while he couldn’t finish it himself, he stuck with it and made a fantastic play. DeBrusk was able to knock the puck out of the air, across the crease, and Charlie Coyle was able to stuff the puck into the Capitals net.
After the goal, Tom Wilson decided that because Nick Ritchie was down on the ice in a vulnerable spot, it was an opportune time to go after him. Once again, Wilson showed that he is by far the most classless player in the league.
Alex Ovechkin was extremely clear with how he felt about the ending of game three on Wednesday night, verbally berating Samsonov for the mistake he made on the bench. After the Bruins’ surge at the start of the period, Ovechkin looked like he was on a mission. He hammered Marchand, knocking the helmet off of the Bruins winger. Ovechkin then got some luck when his stick broke taking a one-timer, but the puck deflected off of Brandon Carlo’s foot and into the Bruins’ net.
The game continued to be intense after Ovechkin’s goal. Scrums started occurring after whistles more frequently than not, and players like Pastrnak who normally stay away from contact were taking their chance to make big hits. The Capitals let the intensity get the better of them and Anthony Mantha took his second penalty of the game. The Bruins capitalized again on Mantha’s second penalty to make it 4-1 when Matt Grzelcyk fired a laser into the top right corner on a beautiful one-timer to give the Bruins some more insurance.
The Capitals pulled their goalie late in the game while on the power-play, but the Bruins stifled any attempts at a comeback. They now take a 3-1 series lead over the Caps, and if they win one of the next three games, we’ll be able to watch some second-round hockey!
End of Third Period: Bruins 4 – Capitals 1
Third Period Shots: Bruins 14 – Washington 7 (Total Shots: BOS 37 – WAS 20)
This is a huge win for the Bruins. After stealing one of two games in Washington, winning both home games puts them in a great position to win this series. This was also their best overall performance of the series in my opinion. They had a bit of a rocky start with poor discipline, but they were able to settle down pretty quickly and start dominating. This game also gives Tuukka Rask the all-time lead in postseason wins by a Bruins goaltender. What an achievement for Tuukka!
Game five will be back in Washington, and the Bruins will have a chance to end Tom Wilson’s season, something I think every Bruins fan would love to see. You can catch that game on USA network at 7:00 pm (probably more like 7:10 pm) Sunday night.