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Bruins penalty kill suffers Alex Ovechkin relapse against P.K. Subban

05.02.14 at 1:29 am ET
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Daniel Briere celebrates P.K. Subban's first goal Thursday night. (AP)

Daniel Briere celebrates P.K. Subban’s first goal Thursday night. (AP)

Back on March 1, in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of nearly identical power-play goals against the Bruins. He set up in his favorite spot in the left circle, and blasted two one-timers past Tuukka Rask.

After the game, the Bruins couldn’€™t really explain how or why it happened. They knew that was where Ovechkin liked to set up. They knew he was the most dangerous weapon Washington’€™s power play had. They had talked about all of it in their preparation for the game. Yet, it happened.

The Bruins learned from those mistakes, though. The next time they played the Capitals and actually took a penalty (they didn’€™t take any in a March 6 meeting), their penalty kill went a perfect 3-for-3. Ovechkin did end up with two shots on goal on those man advantages, but neither was anywhere near as dangerous as the rockets he blasted past Rask on March 1.

Fast forward two months, and the Bruins find themselves facing a similar situation. P.K. Subban is the Canadiens’€™ biggest threat on the power play, and the Bruins know that. They’€™ve known it for a long time. Yet, in Game 1 of the rivals’€™ second-round series, the B’€™s penalty kill twice gave Subban too much space at the point. And like Ovechkin before him, Subban made the Bruins pay both times.

The situations aren’€™t exactly the same, obviously. For starters, this is a much bigger stage than a regular-season game against a non-playoff team. Also, Subban isn’€™t just hanging out waiting for his teammates to get him the puck. While he is certainly capable of bombing a one-timer like Ovechkin, he’€™s just as likely to create his own shot or set up a teammate.

Neither of the goals Subban scored Thursday night came on a one-timer like Ovechkin’€™s. Both were quick shots from center point, though. And on both, Subban had way too much time and space.

On the first, which gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead, he came to a quick stop to open a shooting lane, one he ended up with because Gregory Campbell didn’€™t come out far enough to challenge Subban’€™s shot. Subban wristed the puck through a mass of bodies and into the back of the net.

On the second, the double overtime game-winner, he took in a pass from Andrei Markov, turned toward the net, saw that Brad Marchand was slow getting out to him off the faceoff, and simply teed up a slap shot that beat Rask.

It’€™s easy to look at it now and question how Subban was allowed to get so open twice. It’€™s easy to say it simply can’€™t happen. It was easy to criticize the Bruins for doing the same with Ovechkin back on March 1, too.

The good news if you’€™re a Bruins fan is that the Bruins know it can’€™t happen either. On top of that, they’€™ve shown they know how to defend Subban and the rest of Montreal’€™s power play, as the Habs were just 2-for-17 against Boston’s penalty kill in the regular season.

The B’€™s corrected their mistakes when it came to Ovechkin. Now they need to do the same when it comes to Subban.

“There’€™s no panic here,” Claude Julien said of his team’€™s penalty kill. “It’€™s game number one here. Obviously P.K. Subban’€™s got a good shot from the point, and we’€™ve got to do a better job of fronting him. But our penalty kill’€™s been through a lot this year and we still have confidence in it.”

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