There was a point midway through the second period during Game 4 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between Washington and Boston when the Capitals could look up at the Verizon Center scoreboard and wince. The actual score of the game was still tied at one, but the shots on net read: Bruins 25, Capitals 6.
But soon after winger Troy Brouwer drew a hooking penalty on Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk. The Capitals already had one power play in the first period, and looked completely out of sync with center Nicklas Backstrom serving a one-game suspension.
That changed over the course of the next two minutes, even though Washington didn’t get a goal. They did, however, muster the best scoring chances since forward Marcus Johannsson opened the night with a goal one minutes, 22 seconds into the contest.
First defenseman Dennis Wideman shot the puck over Boston’s net with goalie Tim Thomas scrambling in the crease and then captain Alex Ovechkin whiffed on a one-timer. But the momentum had changed, something the star of the night, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, confirmed afterwards.
“What was really good is they got a few shots right in a row and then we went on a stretch there that we were playing in their end,” he said. “That shows a lot of character that we’re going to bounce back when there’s adversity. I don’t think it was as the scoreboard shows.”
That, it seems, paved the way for Alexander Semin’s game-winning goal when the Capitals again found themselves with a man advantage late in the second period. The mercurial winger showed off the sort of talent that makes his bouts of inconsistency so maddening, firing a laser of a wrist shot over the glove hand of Boston goalie Tim Thomas.
“I thought things were maybe turning our way,” Thomas said. “Even though they were getting chances, I thought we got through the storm, kind of deal. And obviously they were able to get one on their power play there at the end of the second and we were never able to answer.”
The goal was Semin’s second power-play tally of the series, a significant figure if only because nobody else on either team in this series has scored on the man advantage. But the Bruins remain the one team in this year’s NHL playoffs that have yet to score on the power play. They are now 0 for 12 after failing to get a goal on their one opportunity Thursday.
The Capitals, meanwhile, seemed to feed off the power play and it’s a big reason why they’re headed back to Boston for Game 5 with this series tied at two apiece.
“Power play is a big key for us,” Ovechkin said. “We lost Backy but today we do what we have to do. Different guys step up and you know, in power play, we move puck well. We had chances and you know, it goes in.”
More on the Capitals:
— Holtby, Caps keep frustrating Bruins
— On Semin’s game-winning goals in Game 4
— Game story: Holtby hunkers down as Caps win, 2-1
— Shot chart: Track every goal and shot of the series
— Alzner: Holtby’s rebound a ‘very veteran-like response’