Three stars: Brooks Laich, Zdeno Chara, Alex Ovechkin
Another heartbreaking loss...how many times can you have your heart broken and survive? Not for me to answer, I don't even know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. This one was even harder to figure out as it was a whole different game that was played. The main evidence of which can be seen in both the amount of goals scored as well as the number of penalties called. I've already been offered condolences that it could have gone either way, but it still rings hollow.
As there were seven goals scored between the two teams, I'll only do a quick rundown as I saw it. Suffice to say that both goalies seemed to be having a bit of an off night.
First goal---transition play, Semin with a turnaround shot after a crisscross move with OVI at the point and Laich setting a screen
2nd goal Holtby handcuffed, got a piece of it with his glove, but it was at something of an awkward angle
3rd goal Ovi answers right back off a floater pitch pass from Laich
4th Caps forget about defense, Bruin's Daniel Paille was virtually left untouched in front of the net. And the defense pair? Schultz and Wideman, big surprise.
5th goal--more sloppy play in front of net, Rolston gets it in as a result. The Caps seemed flatfooted and caught off guard
6th goal--was game tyer from Brooks Laich which was a fantastic play set up by Nick Backstrom's stretch pass
Game winner--Chara takes slapshot and it deflects off Roman Hamrlik's stick with just 1:53 left. The only way this was a good thing as we were spared yet another, nail-biting, sleep-depriving, jaw-clenching overtime session. Yeah I know...pretty bad when you're glad it doesn't go to OT. I must be getting OLD.
Milan Lucic was kept out of the box score except for his eight PIM, one for each of his eight hits in the game. Or so it seemed. But as I said in the podcast for those of you nice enough to listen, the Bruins have a balanced enough attack so that if any one or two of their big guns are shut down, they have others that can pick up the slack. Which is exactly what happened.
I know Mike Green had that one assist, but on that last power play it was painfully obvious he still is nowhere near his old self as far as his puckhandling and shooting skills. He bobbled the puck several times and his shots were hellaciously off target. We need more out of him at least on the PP unit.
This series had been chippy, but the most dangerous moment in this series up until this point involved a player up against a pane of glass--and the opposing team was nowhere near him. But it was taken to a new level of nastiness with several players reaching 5 or 6 hits total. See below for more evidence of that.
Forty minutes in penalties were handed out last night, 16 of which were given to Nicklas Backstrom. Note to NHL: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET A SERIES GETS OUT OF HAND, THEN TRY TO GET CONTROL OF IT! Unfortunately, Backstrom landed himself a match penalty at the end of the game, which is subject to automatic review unless the league decides to rescind it. Seems he tried to make Rich Peverley eat his stick, though some would say Backstrom was just defending himself. Given the Office on Player Safety's changing moods, it's hard to say whether or not he will be suspended or just fined. Keep your fingers crossed, Caps fans.
To close, I would like to make the observation that, while the game was close, the Caps at times seemed put off of their game. This seemed especially apparent during crucial moments in the final period. While it is good to see them stand up for themselves they cannot, repeat, cannot afford to get suckered into the type of game they wound up playing last night. To do so would be a slow death by suicide. And they MUST remember to stick to their exasperating game of patience that had to some extent frustrated the Bruins so far.
Game 4 is Thursday night. The extra day to heal some bruises will help. Do we have to say this is a "must win game"? I think not.