April 20, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 78 Re-Cap: Brooks Laich’s Shootout Winner Helps Capitals Hang On Against Bruins

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Some were ready to put the lid on the season for the Washington Capitals, but smooth shootout goals from Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks helped the team live to fight another day after a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

All looked lost for the Washington Capitals after they utterly collapsed in the third period, coughing up a two-goal lead to the Boston Bruins. An odd game, featuring an ejection, a couple of pucks off the post and at least a few blown opportunities, looked to be in Washington’s favor in the third period after Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson scored almost exactly two-minutes apart. At the time, it appeared to be a commanding lead for Washington, with just over 10 minutes left in the final period.

As so many have seen before though, Washington systematically broke down both defensively and offensively to allow the Bruins to creep back into the game. Boston carried the play over the last ten minutes of the third period and just seven minutes after Johansson buried an Ovechkin feed, David Krejci began to tug on the heart strings of Caps fans. He put Boston on the board and within a goal of tying the game.

The biggest fears of Washington fans began to appear when, what looked to be an almost perfectly timed win, turned into the nightmarish game they are all too familiar with this season. With only two minutes left, and Boston unable to get any real offense going, it looked like the Caps would hold on and grab the two points they thought they had earned. Washington couldn’t generate any offense in the last ten minutes though and only had five shots on net after their second goal. Suddenly, the optimism of thinking a victory was inevitable changed, when Andrew Ference knotted the game up with his sixth goal of the season to complete the Washington collapse with only 75-seconds left in the period.

It was not the effort Caps fans were hoping to see from a team struggling to make the playoffs, but the team was able to put the stopper back in the bottle to stop the flow of Boston scoring chances and took them to overtime.

Neither team looked really in control throughout the extra five minutes, but Boston had a late flurry around the net that would have all but ended the Washington season, if it wasn’t for Michal Neuvirth holding on to the puck underneath a pile of bodies. With neither team able score, it was going to take a shootout for a victor to be declared.

Boston was able to get on the board with two solid goals from Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron, but it was Laich and Hendricks who stole the show. Both had incredible moves to fake out Thomas, Hendricks’ even caused Thomas to fall over, and sealed an important two points for the team. While Semin’s goal wasn’t as pretty as Laich’s it was important, since without his goal, tonight’s conversation would have been about what could have been, instead of what did happen.

Perhaps the only low point for Washington in Boston is the loss of personnel. Tomas Vokoun left with an apparent injury towards the end of the first period and Jason Chimera was ejected after a questionable hit on Adam McQuiad. While Vokoun is most likely not expected to return soon, since he is nursing a bad groin, Chimera’s future is entirely out of his hands. Based on the charging call and ejection, it will be up to the Director of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, to decide whether Chimera should miss any time for his infraction.

With another big game against the lowly Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, it is fair to say Washington hopes it will have both players back to help continue to keep pace with the Buffalo Sabres, who face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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