They didn’t end up with the goals, but the Capitals’ third line of Jason Chimera, Mathieu Perreault and Eric Fehr was on the ice when Boston took three penalties against Washington in the third period.
Those penalties were crucial, as they proved to be the kickstart the Capitals needed to finally break past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. The final score was 3-2 in Washington’s favor in overtime, and Eric Fehr had the game winner.
Mike Green, meanwhile, drew one penalty and scored on consecutive power plays back in the third. Green’s initial goal was the first time the Capitals made it on the board all night, having trailed Boston by 2 going into the final period.
But what goes up must come down, and Green found himself in the box at the end of the third period for hooking, which meant he joined Alex Ovechkin and the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, who had already been called for roughing. That put the Capitals at a 4-on-3 disadvantage, then a 4-on-5 disadvantage when Marchand and Ovechkin got out, and then, when Green’s penalty carried into overtime, back to a 4-on-3 disadvantage.
It was, needless to say, a busy time for the penalty kill, which didn’t give up a goal to Boston all night. John Carlson and Karl Alzner, with Troy Brouwer and Nick Backstrom alternating, handled the crucial penalty kill in the final seconds of the third and into overtime, with Braden Holtby anchoring the team in net.
“It’s coming together. We still have some work to do,” Holtby said when asked how much more confidence there was in the penalty killing unit compared to the beginning of the season.
For the Capitals to play like they did Saturday, with the result they had, shows just how far they’ve come this season. A win like this would have seemed near impossible from the January, and even February, Capitals.
“We couldn’t ask for a better—the way we ended the season, I think, we fought our way in again, and really earned our spot,” Chimera said when asked if this is the most comfortable he’s been going into the playoffs. “Every line seems to be contributing.”
This morning at practice, Karl Alzner tried to sum up what he’d tell a team struggling mightily at the beginning of the season was the most important thing they should focus on to turn things around, as Washington managed.
“It depends on the team. For us, … I guess the main thing is we were thinking while we were playing, whereas we weren’t just playing to have fun, to play the game, to worry about winning that next game. We were always thinking about, ‘Don’t make this mistake, don’t make that mistake.’”
Alzner said once you get rid of “all that extra” and worry about simply playing the game, it comes to you.
“We were so messed up in the head at the beginning of the season,” he continued. “We weren’t even thinking let’s go out and have fun. We were kind of nervous, I think, and playing the game a little bit gun shy, ‘cause we didn’t want to wreck the system, we didn’t want to get scored against. And as soon as we forgot about that and start seeing a couple of wins pile together, it was more about just having fun and being with the guys and being a team.”