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Tough act to follow: Bruins eliminated in first round by Capitals

04.25.12 at 10:24 pm ET
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The Capitals eliminated the Bruins on Wednesday night. (AP)

The Bruins’ season ended in disappointing fashion Wednesday night, as they fell to the Capitals, 2-1, in overtime to decide Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

The loss marks the first time in four years that the B’s have failed to make it out of the first round.

The series was the closest in the history of the NHL, as no other series have had each game decided by one goal. Joel Ward‘s overtime goal made the difference in the game and the series, as Washington outscored the B’s, 16-15, in the series. Four of the seven games in the series were decided in overtime.

The Capitals got on the board in the first period when a Milan Lucic turnover led to a John Carlson wrist shot that Matt Hendricks redirected in. The goal ended Tim Thomas’ Game 7 shutout streak at 139:03, as he had blanked both the Lightning and the Canucks in Game 7s last postseason.

Tyler Seguin tied the game in impressive fashion when he dove to the net to put in a rebound off a Johnny Boychuk shot. The goal was Seguin’s second in as many games.

Tim Thomas stopped 24 of the 25 shots he saw in regulation, while Braden Holtby made 30 saves on 31 Boston shots prior to overtime.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Jason Chimera, who has been a villain around these parts since his hit on Adam McQuaid late in the season, chose a pretty bad time to put the Bruins on the power play. The Capitals forward took Boychuk down when the two were chasing a puck in the Bruins’ zone, resulting in a holding call. The Bruins wouldn’t be able to take advantage.

Boston also had a perfect opportunity to take the lead in the third period when Roman Hamrlik went off for holding the stick at 1:18. Unfortunately for the B’s, the power play of Games 1-4 showed up and the Bruins weren’t able to muster any production. The Bruins finished the first round 2-for-23 on the man advantage.

- In games as close as the ones this series had, playing mistake-free hockey is key, and that means limiting turnovers. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they were rather prone to them, and the Capitals got their first-period goal after Lucic overstated a puck along the half wall in the Bruins zone. The Capitals gained possession, and Carlson fired a wrist shot on net that Hendricks redirected past Thomas. In the second period, Boychuk and Andrew Ference had turnovers in their own zone on convective shifts.

- The first period was Braden Holtby’s series in a nutshell. The B’s outshot the Capitals, 11-5, but only a Rich Peverley bid late in the period challenged the rookie goaltender. The Capitals successfully play their 1-4 neutral zone trap to made it tough for the B’s to get good rushes, and when they broke into the zone their shots were often from outside the perimeter. Holtby continued to give up big rebounds, but the Bruins had trouble capitalizing on them. For example, Benoit Pouliot ant a puck to Brian Rolston in front after a first-period blast from Zdeno Chara yielded a big rebound, but Rolston couldn’t get to it.

- The playoffs aren’t a time for one to lose their cool, and that nearly happened with the one of the last players from whom you’d expect to see foul play. Rich Peverley was sandwiched between Holtby and Carlson in front of the net late in the second period. Holtby shoved Peverley to the ice, and when the B’s forward got up he started to slash Holtby up high. He held up before skating away, but he could have put the Bruins in a real tight spot entering the third period had he followed through.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Seguin generally avoids contact at all costs, but he really played a grown-up shift when it was most needed. Seguin had to lunge at multiple bodies and take contact in order to put that puck in, and he did so instinctively. The Bruins need Seguin to continue to roll up his sleeves like that.

- The Bruins did an admirable job of killing off a third-period Patrice Bergeron penalty with nine minutes remaining. The Capitals were applying pressure heavily, and the odds were further stacked against the B’s when Dennis Seidenberg broke his stick. The B’s still managed, as Thomas juggled a save on Ovechkin and lost the puck behind the net before eventually covering to get a whistle.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Joel Ward,
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