GREEN WITH TWO GOALS; CAPS TO FACE NEW YORK RANGERS IN STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
With the third seed in the Eastern Conference bracket of the Stanley Cup Playoffs sewn up entering the game, the Washington Capitals had very little to play for Saturday evening except health and pride. For the Boston Bruins, however, first place in the Northeast Division was still up for grabs, so the game had a little more significance.
An entertaining affair boiled down to overtime, and the Caps’ Eric Fehr, as he did earlier in the season, tallied the game winner in the extra frame as the Caps finished the NHL regular season with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, setting up a Quarterfinals Matchup with the New York Rangers for the fourth time in five years.
The Bruins gained a point and own a one-point lead over Montreal in the Northeast with one game to play.
Fehr’s tally came on a four-on-three power play, with Boston’s monolith Zdeno Chara off for hauling down Mike Ribeiro. Riberio found Mike Green with a cross-ice pass at the left-wing circle for a blast that Tuukka Rask couldn’t handle. The rebound popped into the slot, and Fehr slipped past defenseman Wade Redden to get enough of the puck with his backhand to flip it past the sprawled Rask (34 saves) and into the net.
The first period flew by, with no penalties and very few whistles at all to speak of. The Capitals led 22-13 in terms of shots attempted, but it was Boston that drew first blood. On an offensive zone draw, David Krecji beat Mike Ribeiro, pulling the puck back to Milan Lucic. Lucic, who has been a healthy scratch lately for the B’s, flicked a wrister toward the Caps goal. The puck caught Karl Alzner by surprise, and it deflected off Alzner’s right boot and trickled past Braden Holtby (32 saves) for the first goal of the game.
Boston doubled up on the Caps in the second period. Rich Peverley carried the puck into the zone of the right wing and left a drop pass for Andrew Ference at the point. Ference snapped a shot from the top of the circle through a screen — consisting of Lucic and John Erskine, two rather large gentlemen — and past Holtby for the 2-0 lead. Boston had the better of play overall in the second, outshooting the Caps 15-9 in the frame.
Things got interesting in the third.
The Bruins started playing a little sloppy and started taking penalties, which set up several opportunities for the Caps top ranked power play against the B’s top ranked kill. The Caps took the upper hand with two power play strikes within a little over two minutes, with both markers coming from Mike Green.
The first, with Adam McQuaid in the box for tripping, came off a pass from Troy Brouwer, who essentially left the pass for Green at the top of the right wing circle. Green’s slap shot slipped past Rask’s blocker side, much to the goalie’s chagrin. It appeared on the replay that Zdeno Chara reached out with his gloved hand to try to knock down the high shot, but it only served to either confuse or screen Rask.
The equalizer came just over two minutes later with Peverley off for tripping on a very similar play. This time it was Mike Ribeiro who had the puck at the half-boards, dangling until Green wriggled clear. Ribeiro saucered a nifty pass that Green made no mistake on, again beating Rask blocker side. Goals No. 11 and 12 on the season pushed Green past P.K. Subban as the league’s highest goal scoring defensemen this season.
There were tense moments down the stretch though before this one was done. Alex Ovechkin (two assists) and Brad Marchand got tangled up late and both went off for two minutes for roughing, setting up a four-on-four with 2:32 left. Not quite half-way through the four-on-four, Green got caught along the boards and hooked Tyler Seguin, prompting a four-on-three for the rest of regulation. The trio of Nick Backstrom, Karl Alzner and John Carlson go the job done and pushed things to overtime, where Fehr’s winner sent everyone home happy.
With the Rangers defeating the New Jersey Devils, they secured the sixth seed in the East, setting up the first round matchup with the Caps. No one need be reminded that the Caps were tossed from the playoffs last season by the Rangers in the second round after the Caps outlasted the Bruins in the first round.
The Caps would like nothing more than to settle that score in the coming weeks.