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In last year’s playoff run, the Bruins were 1-3 in Game 1′s. So, Thursday night’s playoff opener was anything but a guarantee for the Bruins against the 7th-seeded Capitals.
Then, when the Bruins were unable to get any goals by young Caps goalie Braden Holtby in regulation, you had to wonder if they’d ever score.
Finally, just 1:18 into overtime, Chris Kelly answered that question with authority, blasting a shot by Holtby to give the Bruins a 1-0 series lead.
Tim Thomas picked up right where he left off in Game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, pitching yet another playoff shutout by stopping all 17 shots he faced.
Rarely tested over the first two periods (the Caps had just 2 shots on goal in the 2nd!), Thomas made some terrific stops to keep his team alive in the third.
Early in overtime, his kick save helped set up the B’s on the attack, with the puck eventually getting to Chris Kelly and then the back of the net.
But, we can’t forget how well Holtby played for the Capitals, who are supposedly goalie-challenged. Instead, Holtby was pretty challenging (like the word play there?), stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced and making several key saves, especially in the second period (17 saves in that period alone).
The Bruins, specifically Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, were extremely physical throughout the game. The B’s roughed up Washington star Alex Ovechkin whenever they could.
In one instance, Seidenberg delivered a vicious hit to Ovechkin in the second period, sending both players to the ice and Ovechkin to the bench moments later.
The Bruins will look to take a 2-0 series lead Saturday against the Caps.
The team is just 15 more victories away from winning the Stanley Cup. (They have a long way to go.)