As the capacity crowd at TD Garden roared after Bruins Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand scored a pair of goals in 28 seconds to tie Game 5 late in the second period, it would have been easy for Washington to become unglued by the sudden surge from the defending Stanley Cup champions.
That late stretch in the second period may have been the best Boston has played at any point in time during the series, but fortunately for the Capitals their frenzied push came only a few minutes ahead of the intermission. The two teams went into the break tied 2-2 and Washington was given the necessary time to regroup.
“I think it was kind of good that we had an intermission right away, just to settle down a little bit,” Troy Brouwer said. “We knew we were in a good hockey game and the whole series has been like this, where it’s been one goal back and forth. A lot of tie games for the most of it. We’re comfortable in a situation where we’re either tied or one goal away going into the third.”
According to several players, from the moment the Capitals entered the room various voices stressed composure and getting back on track.
“Right away. Everyone knew it. A couple of guys had said it. But we all knew what had to be done,” Jay Beagle said. “It was just one of those things where we just had to stay positive. There’s no point in sulking over what happened. We just had to stay positive and play our game.
“We got a lot of great character in this room. And a lot of good leaders,” Beagle added. “They were basically just saying it’s a tie game going into the third and we just got to go out and play our game and stick to our game plan and just try to take it to them. We can’t sit back. It felt like that’s what we did.”
At the start of the third, it was all but imperceptible that the Bruins had shifted the momentum so greatly at the end of the previous frame. Washington came out of the break and dished out four of the first five hits in the third, then the fourth line cashed in to regain the lead.
It was the straightforward start and early edge in the period that the Capitals needed to quell any remaining energy from Boston’s previous rally. On a rush up ice, Joel Ward fired a shot on net that sent a rebound caroming out toward Mike Knuble in the left faceoff circle, where he scored to make it 3-2.
“It’s gone like to plan exactly how we wanted it played,” Knuble said of the Capitals’ response. “We could have been down a little bit after the second period when we had a strong 2-0 lead and they came back with two quick ones. That can put us on our heels and really boost them but we were able to get one early in the third and kind of take control of the game again.”